Still awesome, and not bored

sentinel currawongs

Ok, maybe just a teeny bit bored.

Right now, I’m on a work trip that is proving to be fairly dull. This has resulted in me not knowing what to do with myself for a short period of time and that prompted me to update this blog. For this I consider myself quite fortunate. That is, the fact that my life is so full that i haven’t really been bored in the past nine months.

So this is a message to any other women out there with broken ovaries, don’t dwell on your misfortune but do fill your life with anything that excites you and makes you feel alive. That might be something as simple as taking your camera on a local walk and capturing some local beauty (in my case a couple of currawongs on an old dead tree). Or it might be elaborate cake decoration, or hunting down the best bakery to eat the most elaborate cakes, or extracting beetroot juice to make hipster yet lurid frosting, etc etc. Mmm cake.

Of course this is good advice for anyone. Whenever you can, remember to fit enjoyable stuff into life. Isn’t it odd how we sometimes need to be reminded of that? Of course people raising small children (or equally, looking after quite old people) have other responsibilities and can’t always focus on their own joy. And it’s trite to say to a woman with ovarian insufficiency “don’t dwell too much on what is missing from your life, but focus on your freedom” because i know it is not that simple. What i can tell you is that this perspective IS achievable after a more or less arduous journey of self exploration. So my boredom today arises from being stuck in a hotel room with torrential rain outside with most of my pet projects back at home waiting for me. I might be bored right now but not for long because the interesting life i am forging is waiting for me and I’m itching to get back to it 🙂

 

P.s. in terms of any ovarian activity I’ll note that my body must have a sense of humour as the only menstruation events i have had this year seem to have coincided with camping and less than fully available toilet facilities. Haha. Not to worry, my little silicon cup still does a stellar job.

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Everything is awesome

I haven’t posted on this blog for three whole months now. Probably because I lost any sense of what this blog is FOR. Partly also because I have just been enjoying other aspects of my life.
One of the reasons that I started this blog in the first place was that I was a little lost, in relation to finding out my ovaries didn’t work, but also due to other life stuff. Back then I was yearning to hear a story similar to mine, of someone who had found out that they were subfertile/infertile and therefore apparently going to miss out on life’s biggest joys (according to some, or many) but also not completely heartbroken at the thought of not being a mother, but at the same time not really sure what her life was about, or going to be about. All of that is a lot to think about. There was more of course; worry that my lovely husband was hiding/suppressing disappointment about not being a parent, concerns about my general health and lifespan (if your ovaries stop pumping out oestrogens then all your other body systems go to rot, supposedly), and many other concerns and confusions and sometimes downright irrational thoughts that stopped me really enjoying life. Although I’ve since read many first hand accounts from sufferers of ovarian insufficiency, none of them articulated the mental place that I was in or the exact concerns that I wanted addressed. One of those was ‘if you find out that attempting parenthood will mean a significant amount of effort, money and emotional fortitude on you and your partners part, then does it make sense to forgo that life decision, and will you still make yourselves a life filled with meaning and pure joy and much more besides?’.

Rationally, I knew that the answer to that question was YES. But two years ago I really wanted to hear from someone who had lived through that question and demonstrated the happy ending. The happy ending that doesn’t end with ‘and then I got my miracle baby!’.

So, I think that I will keep adding to this blog every now and then. I no longer really need the blog for pondering the science behind ovarian insufficiency, or as an emotional or creative outlet. I have lived through tough times filled with doubts about my life but now I’m firmly on the other side of all that. I love my life, and I’m grateful for all of the pleasures and interests that I’m able to pursue, and yes! the benefits that come with being a child free couple. So, I’ll stop by and update this blog in case it can help anyone in a similar situation. Do I still hear of friend’s pregnancies and get a little twinge of jealousy? Yup, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. It is fine to be happily child free and also to be disappointed that parenthood is not an opportunity that will come easily to me/us. It is fine to be a complex person. Do I still have moments when I don’t know what my life is about? or what drives me? Of course. But then I remind myself that this is just part of being human and as long as I’m taking measures to ensure that I’m enjoying any opportunities that come along and shrugging my shoulders at those that don’t, then what more can I really do? ‘You just do what you can do’ has kind of become my new motto.

Does this sound like an awesome life? I’m aware that my life might not sound awesome to some. I’m aware that ‘feeling a little jealous about other’s babies’ while proudly proclaiming to be loving my child free life could raise the odd eyebrow and make me appear conflicted or in denial or some other such rubbish. On the other hand, I feel a little sanctimonious when I say it, but my life is fucking great compared to many people’s. Two years ago I would tell myself that we were very very rich and privileged and had a huge amount of security and stability compared to millions of people worldwide. It’s certainly true. I listen to the news. But that was not enough at the time to make me grateful for what I had or to stop me worrying about the things that I don’t have. But slowly and surely I improved the way I looked at my surroundings and by now I have found my gratitude and it is brilliant.

That’s enough waffle from me. Pictures sometimes say it better than words. The pictures below were taken on one of our local bush walks. I’ve enjoyed ‘nature’ for always. I’m going to sound preachy again but I love how being out in the uncivilised wilderness* takes you out of yourself. It’s also just beautiful, and a life without beauty and wonder and sunshine just isn’t worth living. Maybe rather than nature and biological wonders it’s astronomy, or great works of art, or gourmet travels or writing your own computer programs or yup, playing with your kids, that makes your life worth living. Whatever it is, make sure to get a regular dose.

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grevillea moss

 

*Not really wilderness, and not very far from civilisation we were just two hours from home and a nice hot shower 🙂

Baby pavement lettuces

I’m going back to working full-time hours. Hurrah! Money! More importantly, it’s work that really interests me (science!) and enables me to develop some really handy skills. But I will admit that I’m a bit worried that I will slip into old bad habits. That I’ll fall back onto the old conveniences, rather than the sustainable habits that I’ve had the luxury of extra time to experiment with and instil into daily life. On the other hand, a lot of the new habits have been much easier than I anticipated, some of them downright lazy. This includes leaving the lettuces in my garden go to seed, and I just found out that this lazy step is paying off! There is a whole new crop of baby lettuces peeping out from in-between our recycled brick pavers in the back yard. I counted 9 🙂

I’m sure that with no effort at all on my part these will soon be large enough to supplement a bean burrito or tasty salad. And without driving anywhere or using any packaging at all. In fact, seeing as they are growing in-between the pavers (rather than in dirt) they probably won’t even require washing. Easy sustainability win!

Garden gains and losses

Strangely perhaps, my efforts to grow some of our own produce were more successful when we lived in an apartment. Partly due to making really excellent soil by fermenting vegetable waste in a bokashi bin and then burying that nutrient source into wooden planter boxes. With full sun on a North facing balcony, those boxes were really high yielding.munched spinach

I thought it would be just as easy to grow food in our backyard, which came replete with raised veggie beds but they haven’t so far been as bountiful as the balcony planters. The soil in the raised beds is quite depleted, so I’m working to enrich it with as much home-made compost as I can. And then there are the pests. Up on the first floor balcony I didn’t have to worry about them much, but this weekend I found out that the local possums had struck again!

The spinach had been growing really nicely and I was starting to ponder what recipe to use the next harvest in but I was too slow. At least the possums don’t actually eat the whole plant and it should bounce back.

 

broadbeansproutWhen I went over to inspect the sad spinach I cheered up considerably when I noticed that my broad beans were sprouting. The possums seemed to leave these alone last winter, so perhaps the beans I planted around the spinach will protect it.

The strong winds we’ve been having have  been blowing my tomatillos off the plant before they are quite ripe. Or perhaps that means they are ripe enough?

And I dug out the chilli plant and potted it up to see if it will survive the winter indoors (we will get our first frost this week). I tried that with an eggplant last winter but it didn’t make it, so fingers crossed.

We’re certainly not feeding ourselves purely with home grown produce, but it’s still fun, even when you inadvertently end up feeding the local critters instead.

A bucket full of goodness

I love composting and I love (trying to) grow things. I love the idea that I can take kitchen waste material, transform it into great plant food, and perhaps even turn it into food for us. I buy the cheapest possible potting mix and usually amend that with compost to top up veggie garden beds, or grow things in pots. We’re at the end of autumn here so it’s a great time to grow some winter lettuces and other things, yet my compost is not ready. What to do? I realise that I can buy compost from the store (not as good as my own) or I can give the nutrient poor potting mix a real boost by mixing in some fertiliser. That’s when it occurred to me that rather than getting in the car and driving to the gardening store to buy a bag of sheep manure, I could forage much closer to home!

Autumn has thankfully brought us some rain so there is much more green grass around. We may even have to mow the lawn (I can’t remember when we did that last, at least a month ago). The kangaroos are loving it, and have been very bold and venturing into the suburbs to enjoy the sporting ovals and local parks.

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A damp little roo as the morning fog clears

Subsequently, there is plenty of fresh roo poo everywhere! It didn’t take too much work, but we did get the added benefit of a little bit of exercise while collecting a whole bucket from our local neighbourhood. Hubby and I perhaps roused some curiosity in other people out enjoying the parks (there were 3 simultaneous soccer matches going on down at the soccer field), but I was quite pleased that we were able to fill the whole bucket so easily.

I think roo poo is less rich than other manures, so I think it should be safe to just mix into the potting mix and use straight away. It will be fun to experiment with it anyhow.

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Rainy Day

I can’t remember when we last had a proper rainy day. When all we have to do is be at home and cosy, with soft rain falling outside all day long. It’s really lovely.
It’s especially appreciated because the weather has been drier than usual, so the garden really needs the water. We’ve also been working fairly hard (my husband in particular!), so it’s a great excuse to slow right down.

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The view outside right now, the Japanese maple got a little burnt over summer but still managed to put on some stunning autumn colour

I get a lot of pleasure from growing my own edibles but at the same time, I remember that my main motivation for growing them is attempts at a more sustainable life. Therefore, the garden hasn’t been very productive over summer, when it has been very dry (and I try to only use tank water). It’s also been warmer than normal, hence why the chilli plant and even some basil is still limping on in the otherwise bare veggie patch. I threw down some lettuce seeds and poked in some broad beans yesterday, so here’s hoping the rain will lead to speedy germination and lots of leafy greens in the near future.

rubus

 

It’s also great to see that my new planting of Rubus parvifolius (native raspberry!) is taking off, with new leaves emerging. I didn’t even know that Australian native raspberries were a thing. The best thing about this little bush with tasty fruit is that it can grow in the shady position in my garden where not much else would thrive. That should also make it a little more water-efficient (unlike the metal edged raised bed, which gets very hot and quickly dry). I’ve been trying to grow a few things in the shady garden bed underneath the larger trees, for a more visually appealing garden but also because undergrowth plants should help attract and protect the smaller native birds and lizards.

While the plants outside are enjoying a long drink, hubby has put on Indiana Jones for background noise and nostalgia while we potter around the house. I guess it may not seem like an exciting life to some, but these slow days really do contribute well to our sustainable life. I’ll cook up a lovely meal soon, using locally grown vegetables, dried chickpeas bought in bulk and always with an eye towards minimal packaging and waste.

I know that I’ve blogged about this before, but I also really love days like this to add to my ongoing art project that is my patched jeans. The current count is 7 patches. A friend asked me yesterday if I do it for fashion or to save money. I’m not sure that anyone would really see them as fashionable! And I do like the fact that they are saving me some money. This pair I bought for $7 second hand, and I’m certainly extending their life, but I also have my ‘good jeans‘, which I was happy to pay $200 for because they came from an ethical supplier. No, my reasons for patching up this old pair begun with sustainability, continue with comfort and the knowledge that the sewing calms my mind, and also the intriguing thought that perhaps one day they will consist entirely of patches. And I don’t think anyone else will have a pair quite the same!

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Tree week!

I’m a bit late to the party but it’s currently Canberra tree week. What could be more sustainable than trees? Here are some beauties that I saw on my mini mountain walk today:

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I’m not sure if the photo I took with my phone does them justice, but the almost silver bark really shone in the afternoon sun.

I’ll have to find out what species they are, I had a look on the Atlas of Living Australia and my closest guess after looking there would be the Brittle gum (Eucalyptus mannifera), but perhaps they are scribbly gums or something else?

In other local news Canberra now has a mattress recycling scheme! So Cool. The metal springs are recycled and the fabric components can be used to make carpet underlay and other things.

 

Loving my bike more and more

I’ve been bike commuting  (7.7 km each way) at least a few times a week for about the past year. I’d still say I’m pretty unfit, and can only manage small hills but I DO see a slight improvement. I got proper bike gloves for Christmas so that I can keep riding through the winter. Winter mornings here are often 0°C or lower even up until 9 or 10 am. This is very cold for Australia!! I have free parking at my workplace but I’m determined to stay on the bike for my own health and that of the environment and also my wallet.

Riding this week was extra enjoyable because someone had written inspirational mottos on the bike path with chalk! Stopping to take a photo of this was also a good excuse to sit at the nearby pond and eat my walnut and date muffin. A nice halfway break!

Other short interruptions to riding involved roadworks but that’s ok as these particular ones are to install better road crossings  for where the bike path goes over local streets*. I’m glad I live in bike friendly Canberra! I’m also glad that I’m a little more fit these days. It means that I am inspired to take a longer ride on the weekend, and enjoy some of the deciduous trees that are showing glorious autumn leaves here right now.

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*http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/act-budget-to-boost-bike-paths-and-cycle-infrastructure-20150527-ghata4.html

 

Recycling flexible plastics, and other new habits

Today I remembered to verify something I heard a while ago, something that could reduce the amount of waste I send to landfill even more. I know that a lot of supermarkets in Australia have recycling schemes for the plastic bags they hand out. I don’t think it’s widely known however, that it’s not just supermarket bags that you can return. All sorts of flexible plastic packaging can be recycled at the same time. All of the relevant information can be found here, in an article by Rachel Clemons, published on the Choice website (the highly regarded consumer advocate group here in Australia). Apologies to any international readers as this information is only relevant to Australia, but hopefully similar schemes exist wherever you are!

I’ve read a few blog posts and articles about ‘plastic free’ lifestyles or experiments and I love the idea and am a little bit in awe of those who can make it work. For myself (and hubby, who I convince to join me in my new eco-habits!), I’m not quite there yet. Even though I only work part time I’m still too lazy to make my own pasta for instance. So bags of pasta or corn chips, dried fruit, and plastic around boxes of tea bags, and yes even plastic wrapped herbs or vegetables (as much as I’d like to avoid those) are the types of things that contribute the most to the ‘sent to landfill’ waste that we generate. We’ll continue to try and find alternatives to buying these plastic-packaged items but I’m expecting it to be a slow transition and that’s OK.

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Plastic from dates and tea

In my last post I mentioned that I’ve been a little unmotivated in general. It’s times like that when any new habits tend to fly out the window. Because I don’t like being a hypocrite, this creates problems. For example, this weekend we took the car out twice, once to a social event and then again to run an errand. This is not something that I’m proud of. It probably seems like such a little thing, but I could have ridden my bike on both of those outings. I’m a believer of ‘little things make a difference’ and that’s why I’m happy to recycle a plastic wrapper here and there. But sometimes the little measures get forgotten, and you take the car instead of the bike. While I’d like the habit of bike riding to be more ingrained, I’m not going to beat myself up that it’s not. Because while I’m feeling negative about using the car unnecessarily, I probably wouldn’t remember to look up the information on recycling my pasta wrappers.

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I’ll save up all the packaging in this perfect receptacle, the plastic ‘bag’ that came around a head of celery (from when I didn’t make it to the farmers market)

Changing lifestyles is often harder than we give credit for. So I’m happy to grab hold of those moments of inspiration and to remember that it will all slowly sink in and will feel natural and commonsense in the end. Stashing a few bits of flexible plastic in a new storage destination, I recalled that I had similarly set aside a few other pieces when I had first heard of the idea. So I’m already further ahead than I thought I was! And I’m sure that sometime in the near future, when another inspired moments hits, I’ll take a nice big collection of flexible plastics to the collection point, and I’ll take them on my bike 🙂

And because pictures of my trash are a little boring, here are some pelicans:
pelicans