Latest Posts

Mushroom growing update: me vs every forest creature. But I won!

Remember when I said I was making a Wine Cap mushroom bed under my old lime tree? Well little did I know, as I toiled to layer the cardboard, bark chips, and compost, but I was being watched by a number of excited forest crittters, waiting to see what gifts I was bringing them.

I very quickly found little scratch marks and tiny holes dug out all along the sides of the bed…

“No way buddies! I’ve worked too hard for this!”

So as you can see, I went back to the hardware store, and bought metal stakes and netting to protect my magical mushies.

Determination can be my middle name, and hang the extra expense.

Didn’t work. Damn critters just dug in under the netting, even though I’d then weighed the sides down with rocks, boulders, and thick branches.

I felt a little disheartened, and stopped checking every day, wondering if I should transfer the bed to my fully-fenced secure veggie garden… Can one dig up mushrooms and just shift them I wondered?

But then one morning I happened to walk past, and look what I saw:

ONE gorgeous, proud, unexpected Wine Cap mushroom, glowing in the soft light of dawn. Woohoo! one proud Mama here. It tasted delicious in my fresh pasta, basil and cherry tomato lunch. I imagined various mushie dishes, and baskets of ‘shrooms to hand out to my delighted friends…

Then I had not one more growth.

Boohoo.

Until yesterday:

A veritable bouquet of Wine Caps! I was very happy, and had to share my excitement, in the light of all the crazy politics and virus dramas still going on around the world.

Wherever you are reading this, may you be safe, and warm, with a full belly, preferably of mushrooms.

What’s your favourite way to eat them?

In gratitude for mycelium & soil, G xO

Cabbage, chandeliers, and cabaret

G, whatcha been doin’? Remember when you used to blog every week? Yes, but that was before forest and garden tempted me with their bounties.

And before the pandemic made me stay home, cocooned in privilege and privacy, questioning the status quo of social media and blogs in general.

So instead of writing, I’ve been planting/weeding/fertilizing/cooking and eating vegetables like a desperate herbivore.

Plus making delicious sauerkraut with my own-grown red cabbage.

Then there’s the not-so-small matter of a renovation project on my unused studio, which cried out for a chandelier! Finally I found one locally, covered in dust, in a glorious hand-blown deep red. I thought I wanted crystal clear and silver, but I’ve been blessed otherwise, so I’m going with the flow of that.

Bringing it home was an adventure in slow-driving, letting other cars pass, and trying not to be hypnotised by the delightful tinkle tinkle of the swinging crystals. Then a wheelbarrow to get it down my drive to the front door, and the obsessive-compulsive challenge of cleaning & polishing every single piece… it will take me a while… who needs to ever leave home again anyway?

I PROMISE I will post a pic when it’s in place.

With two dear friends, I am also producing and performing in a queer cabaret that we secured post-COVID funding for; we are employing over 20 artists, both on and off the stage, and bringing naughty fun to regional audiences.

So my To Do list is long, ever-growing, and stress-producing. With ‘blogging’ waaaaay down the bottom sorry.

But with only two more weeks to go till curtain rises, I will then have NO EXCUSE not to be here 😉

I need to update you on my mushroom experiment, my latest horse riding adventure in the woods, and my new date…

*grins

And that is certainly another post that needs writing.

In gratitude for the colours red and green, G xO

Reaching a milestone: being asked to join a cool Book Club

Me aged 3 thinking about going to school, where there ARE lots of new books to discover

Dare I state the obvious? I LOVE to read. One way I resist Capitalism with glee is to lie on the couch buried in a book for a few hours.

I’ve always been like that: as a quiet, dreamy child, I was never happier than when lost in the world of a book. Well, actually, playing with our guinea pigs was pretty good too (Lord Palmeston and Lady Windemere- photo sadly not available).

So imagine my delight when last Sunday the phone rang, and my dear friend’s husband asked me in his deep formal voice if I would care to join his Book Club?

I felt like a kid again, I was so excited. As soon as the invitation began to sink in, I immediately thought about what book I would suggest- somehow I have learnt along the way that this is the protocol.

‘”Girl, Woman, Other”, G, that’s a great book. They’ll think you’re edgy and cool/well-informed. And it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019.’

Calm, succinct words continued to flow down the phone line:

Our book this month is “Girl, Woman, Other”, have you heard of it?’

I gasped.

View from verandah

‘Are you serious? I’ve read it twice! Got to the end, waited a week, started again cos I loved it so much. It’s what I would have suggested.’

A long pause on the other end (he’s a slow-talking, thoughtful man).

‘This is better than a Hollywood script isn’t it? It’s meant to be. We will see you at the end of the month then?’

Oh yes you will. I’m going to read it again, and make notes this time :~)

What about you Dear Reader?

Have you been in a Book Club? How old were you when you joined- I’m 54- been waiting a long time. Have you read this book? And most importantly, WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR ME TO RECOMMEND NOW? I’ve no ideas…

In gratitude for letters, words, sentences, and books, G xO

Dating over 50 after heartbreak: can we still surrender to a starry sky?

I find myself single once more after a 2-year rollercoaster; wounds healing, lessons learned [hopefully], correct path rediscovered. Did you know midlife or ‘grey’ divorce has doubled since 1990? I follow a number of blogs of women in my age bracket (45-60), and at least half of them are single and dating. Of course, several are still in delightfully content long term relationships or marriages, and kudos to them.

That has never been my story. Nor my goal.

Still, once again, I clawed my way out of a tear-filled, anxiety-riddled, confused and lonely pit of mourning, like a determined yet unlucky mole.

And then began sprucing up my online dating profile, adding current photos, and perusing my options…

*sigh

Some familiar faces are still there. And now mine too, returning to the fray.

I sat on my blue couch facing the forest, flipping past desperate hopeful offer after offer, and noticed I felt numb.

Too soon? Four months single; feel ready for something though. Too easy? Been online since 2010, so yes, very accustomed to this hunting. Too callous? Yes again: the instant discard because of ugly sunglasses, an orange shirt, or the ubiquitous drink in hand is harsh, and I can be ruthless, I admit- you learn to be in online dating.

I closed the lid to my laptop. There must be another way… how did we used to do it? But more importantly, was I really ready?

When I was 10, I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to do/be when I grew up- it was probably a school exercise. Writer, actress, journalist… I’ve kind of ticked the boxes haven’t I?

I also wrote a list of the ways I didn’t want to be, and from memory, the top point was ‘cynical’. I was a dreamy, romantic child, and my favourite moments now are still those times before jumping out of the bed in the morning, when I can let my sleepy soft mind drift through imagined or remembered scenarios and experiences.

After this latest worst break-up ever [complete dysfunctional disrespect by the other party of my clearly-expressed needs for safety and boundaries], it would be easy for me to sit in cynicism, or worse still, swear off entanglement forever.

But as my dear friend A says:

‘G, I’ve never seen you deeply committed to misery.’

And he’s right. The curious, playful, and ultimately brave part of me wants to venture back out into the light, to see if I can find love again…

My question is: can I surrender to it if I find it?

Remember when you were young, say 23, and met someone you liked? Back then, the world was your oyster. I fell in love with a kitchen-hand with dark cats eyes in tropical North Queensland, and before I even thought about it too much, we backpacked off to England and Canada, then ended up in a caravan at his parents’ farm in Coffs Harbour a couple of years later. We then agreed to break up in the check-out queue of the local supermarket, on my birthday, as you do.

So be it.

Another romance saw me move across Australia, study to become a Pilates instructor, then spend years commuting back and forth to see my son.

Even old readers of this blog will recall my delightful Melbourne love connection, with monthly trips to a rural idyll far from my beloved beach, exploring a profound creative relationship with ‘H’, who I treasure still to this day.

*sighs

Can I do it again? With a mortgage and part time jobs to juggle, plus darling son ’20Now’? At what point do we give up believing in romance? Is it really just a social construct to sell Hallmark cards and promote the religious agenda of the nuclear family?

*sighs again

I still want to look at someone and feel butterflies. I still want to hold hands while gazing at the stars, aware that we are infinitesimal, yet so important to each other in each breath, each unfolding moment.

I do have faith in my emotional resilience, for that’s what it will take. And I back myself up with discipline and commitment: I go to therapy; I read and reflect; I write in my journal; I talk with and listen to my wise friends.

I feel supported, and therefore brave.

So my answer is YES. Yes, I hope I can still surrender to love, if it comes along.

How about you? Of course this damn pandemic makes everything tricky, and we need to stay safe as a priority, but how are you feeling about your search for love, whether single or partnered?

In gratitude for online conversations and the magic of starlight, G xO

“Courage is Fear that’s said its prayers”

Hi Everyone out there :~)

I was randomly wondering if you have a tattoo, and what’s its story? I have two: one on my right foot from 1997, and one on my left arm when I turned 40 in France in 2006.

I had a vision or daydream about the foot image; went by myself into the scary tattoo shop in broad daylight, and bravely asked the huge bearded guy behind the counter if he would ink me.

“No tatts below wrist or ankle, it’s the law. Go away and work out where else you want it, then come back.”

I cycled home, disappointed and thoughtful. Spent the weekend trying to imagine where else I wanted it… but could only come up with my right foot.

So Monday afternoon, I walked back in.

“It has to be on my foot, there’s nowhere else.”

“Fine then, take a seat, let’s do it.”

Test passed. And the image was to remind me to walk without fear– or rather, to take steps even if I felt fearful. Getting it done KILLED ME, as the needle plunged in and out over my sensitive bones. Didn’t wear shoes for a month while it healed, and slowly got used to my new visual footfall.

It’s old now, with blurred edges and faded colours- a bit like me. In fact, the green ink came out almost straight away as a big scab, rejected by my body. Sometimes I think about getting it covered over (a cute Mini Cooper with wings, or a dark horse perhaps), but then I feel nostalgic for all the epic journeys we’ve taken together, my tattoo and I, so I leave it be.

I do like being reminded to ‘walk without fear’ too. Life is too short and too precious to stagnate for long.

Glasses, books and meditating are good for me now that I'm over 50
Always trying to learn and improve my wellbeing

So I’ve walked myself into Al-Anon meetings lately, for a number of reasons. As this pandemic locks so many people inside, causing mental health to plummet, I’m super grateful that I’m resilient, and have an awesome veggie garden.

I also don’t drink or take drugs.

But lots of people do, some less successfully than others. I come from a long line of drinkers, on all sides of the family, with the melancholy Welsh streak perhaps playing its part?

I’ve never really drunk myself; I don’t abstain deliberately like an alcoholic in recovery must (hand me a glass of Moet or Veuve for a special occasion yes), but I have no need for a nightly glass of wine, or ‘Dutch courage’ to get me on the dance floor. I’ve watched loved ones (both familial and romantic) struggle with the ‘demon drink’, and I’ve lost relatives to its poisonous ways.

In Al-Anon, sitting as a silent witness to heartbreaking stories of long struggles both upsets yet calms me. I feel grateful that we are all there together; that we support each other; that there is safety in numbers and understanding. No one gives advice or tips. We just listen, reflect, and learn. Last week, someone offered the title of this post:

“Courage is Fear that’s said its prayers.”

I thought immediately of my little foot tattoo all those years ago. It took courage for me to hold to my vision of where I wanted it; to sit through the pain of the process; to try over and over to then ‘walk without fear’ as I’d vowed.

I say my prayers now when I meditate, or thrash on the dance floor. I say them when I write affirmations in my journal, or sometimes under my breath when I’m walking. Each repetition grounds me, like a footfall onto earth.

Here I am. Here I step. Here I bring my fear, my grief, my shame.

And here I walk: feeling the fear but doing it anyway.

May we all find the courage of saying a prayer for our fears, to help heal ourselves and each other.

In gratitude for the powers of transformation and support, GxO

The magic of mushrooms (but not magic ones please)

Hello everyone- how’s your pandemic going? (Never thought I’d start a post like that). I am one of the luckiest people I know: 2 weeks before our first Australian lockdown began, I moved house, up into the rainforest. I was blessed with an already-established veggie garden, and now I’ve improved it further.

I’m also expanding: moving into specifically-chosen, dappled sunlight zones, under trees, where I can grow mushrooms.

Not just any old mushrooms mind- and certainly not the ones which spring up round here after rain, gathered with glee by young folk who want to have a psychedelic experience… been there, done that, it was fun, no more thanks.

I’m talking seriously edible treats, commonly known as Wine Cap mushrooms, or King Stropharia– ideal for the home garden.

But first, the preparation. Mushrooms like to grow in the damp & dark; most of us who’ve survived share houses with cellars in our youth know this already.

I was advised by an expert: a layer of cardboard, then woodchips; another layer of cardboard, and another layer of woodchips. Dampen it all down, let it settle for a week, then insert the magical mycelium.

Onto it. (Let’s face it: not much else to do).

Once the bed was prepared (note artistic curve rather than straight line- again, not much else to do), I was given the treasured mycelium (which looked like mouldy old damp egg cartons, and that’s in fact exactly what they were).

But you see that white stuff? That’s the magic which is going to spread through my bed, talk to my trees, rejuvenate the soil, and gift me with a non–stop crop of mushrooms in about 3 months!

I just have to insert it, and wait. Water once a week if necessary. Add a thick layer of dark rich compost once the mycelium has spread its whiteness everywhere like snow, and watch the burgundy-topped mushrooms sprout up.

It feels a bit like Christmas anticipation, but not for mass consumption, over-spending, and overeating.

I’m excited.

I’ve checked them once a week already: there is a little spreading to be recorded. Then my expert friend suggested I also use some mycelium-covered grain spores, so I’ve added them too (it was like feeding grain to the chickens but without chickens).

The weather has been perfect lately, with sunny days and cool nights, plus scatterings of showers, so I’m looking forward to lifting a corner of the woodchip in a couple of weeks, and seeing what’s going on in there.

Nothing like a new hobby to help pass a pandemic. And also the messiest break up I’ve ever been involved in, but I’m not going to mention any more about it [What part of “Three months no contact please” is hard to understand?]

*sighs and rolls her eyes.

Despite the global disasters, Melbourne’s new strictest lockdown policy ever, and concerns for friends and family interstate or overseas, I’m feeling calm, quiet, focussed and playful.

Now bring on the magic of my mushrooms!

In gratitude for the ongoing abundance of Nature, despite humans, G xO

From the madness of 1000-strong bush parties, to the miracle of broccoli

Hello everyone, from here in Australia, where we apparently just had the largest social gathering in the world since the pandemic began.

30 minutes from my house.

I know people who went. Hell, the guy who put it on is a friend of dear friends… it’s a small town.

So last weekend, while most of us were still at home binge-watching old series they missed the first time around (hello ‘True Blood’), approx 500-1000 mainly young people arrived on a private property in the rainforest to party. They parked their cars along both sides of a narrow, dark, muddy lane, and danced gloriously till 2.30am. Please click the link above or this same one for the ABC news version of the event, including footage from Instagram.

I was shocked to say the least. Disappointed. Scared. Angry at both the organisers and the attendees, many of whom were backpackers and travellers, not locals.

And more than a little jealous, to be honest.

I used to love ‘bush doofs’ as we call them here. Dancing for hours in the forest, under the full moon, getting lost in the music and each moment, over and over.

A gate to keep out critters

Those were the days.

But now there’s a pandemic- unless you believe there isn’t. And yes, some of those people dancing last weekend think this whole COVID thing is a hoax designed to take our rights away, that no one is really dying, and that the normal flu is worse.

I live in a region with a history of social disobedience and activism; hippies fled here in the early 70s, and influenced a whole town of ‘counter-culture’ called Nimbin, which calls itself the alternative lifestyle capital of Australia.

So as you can imagine, there is some resistance to the lockdown.

Me? I’m happy to surrender. As I wrote last time, I’m super blessed. I moved to my new home 2 weeks before the restrictions kicked in, and my veg garden was one of the reasons I bought in here.

Netting to keep out birds and bats

So while the world is going crazy, in terrible, stupid, cruel, and unlucky ways, I am planting seedlings, and watching them grow.

All praise the miracle of broccoli!

Yes, I miss dancing with my friends, and letting off steam. But I can still do my dance practice in the lounge room. And yes, I miss the thrill of going out, not really knowing how the night will unfold, and what adventures may call…

But for now, I am SO HAPPY to watch florets of broccolis appear, each one perfect in its geometry, promising the taste of feasts to come.

From looking out to the hillside of a thousand people dancing (which normally I would relish), to the simplicity of holding the universe within my hand.

What about you? What’s a small thing you’ve noticed and appreciated in these virus times?

In gratitude for simplicity, and the colour green, G xO

So grateful to be locking down here in the rainforest for COVID-19

Blogging is hard when I’m such a privileged white woman

Still can't believe this is my sunset view over 50 in my tree change

Hi everyone, I’m sorry I’ve been absent. I’m struggling so much with the terrible, ongoing events in America, both your virus toll, and racism uprising.

Every time I see the mounting infections tally, I feel sick. And every time I hear of another cop-related murder, or see footage of cruel arrests and police brutality, I cry.

WTF? How are you coping over there? How is life going on as ‘normal’? How exhausted are you, from being on alert, from dealing with your president, from facing your past?

I can’t imagine.

Yet here I sit, safe and sound. Look at my daily view. Look at my cosy home & fire.

I can’t imagine the stress of not feeling safe, ever.

So I’m finding it hard to write about my bushwalk with my visiting cousin, or my attempt at a spoon carving workshop, or even Part Two of my Buddhist breakup survival post, because it all seems so damn SUPERFICIAL, and incredibly spoilt.

Have you seen the TikTok privilege test? One minute of heart-wrenching reality check.

Last week I was reduced to deep sobbing tears on the couch, reading about the murder of Elijah McClain, a gentle, violin-playing introvert, killed by police for wearing a mask…

So yes, I’m still here, reading blog posts, news articles, and trying to educate myself, but finding it hard to just write ‘as normal’. I also decided it was best to create space for all the other blogs and articles written by people of colour which are waaaaaaaaay more important than my over-50’s privilege problems.

How are you coping?

In sadness, G xO

Bustin’ through a break-up with some badass Buddhism, Part One

boneAndsilver_frog1Three weeks in, and how am I going you wonder? I’m doing OK actually. Definitely avoiding going out, and ringing old friends for long chats and debriefs, trying not to say the same things over and over.

I’ve had two therapy sessions, done a bunch of journalling, and surprised myself two weekends ago by ‘getting onto the cushion’ at my monthly meditation day.

“The cushion”, G? What do you mean?

Well, once a month (via Zoom at the moment), a group of 25-35 women go spend some time with Yoda Carol Perry, listening to her teachings on the Buddhist Dharma, and meditating several times during the day.

It’s literally the highlight of my month; I’ve written about it before HERE.

boneAndsilver_frog2

Even via Zoom- and sitting in my car last time because I had no wifi reception at home- the collective meditation experience is so much stronger than my solo sits.

The structure online is 3 hours shorter, and we miss our gloriously chatty shared gourmet lunch, but in essence it’s the same: Welcome circle/check in, meditate, teachings, meditate, Enquiry, meditate, closing/check out.

What is Enquiry? 3 or 4 women each spend 10 minutes sitting on a cushion facing Yoda Carol, delving more deeply into an issue in a 1: 1 format. But witnessed by the whole group, who try to practice ‘attentive listening’.

It generally involves relationship troubles, and tears.

So yes, I was ‘normal’ that day.

boneAndsilver_frog3

I certainly didn’t plan to speak; in fact, even though I’m officially ‘a performer’, I generally keep a low profile in groups, and prefer not to be in the spotlight…

But during the long pause between one woman leaving the cushion, and Yoda Carol extending the invitation for another to arrive, I found myself squirming and sweating, wondering if I should unmute my microphone…

Someone else chimed up though, so I relaxed back into my seat, relieved at my luck.

Until the next invite, and the next pause, which went on FOREVER.

On and on. While my silly brain span around about what to say, or what to reveal, madly planning how to do the Enquiry without REALLY doing the Enquiry.

boneAndsilver_frog4

Then almost before I knew it, I’d clicked on the microphone symbol, and said Hi.

*Gulp

I quickly told the story, waving my hands around for emphasis, scuttling over the painful bits, dying to get to the end. Or dying to get to some point where Carol would soothe me.

She waited till I stopped blabbing, then just told me to breathe. And breathe again. Then find the source of tension in my body, and move into the edges of it.

What did I find?

Part Two to follow…

In gratitude for anticipation & frogs (symbol of transformation),  G xO

 

“Can we hold a funeral for this love?”

Break ups over 50 are hard work

Finding comfort in the ordinariness of home

Break ups suck, we all agree.Whether mutual or one party initiating; whether a shocking surprise or long slow death; whether relief or torture, short or long-term, the loss of a loving connection tears at the heart.

We know this. We’ve all felt it. I’m nearly 54, and can’t believe I’m still working my way through this sad swamp, grabbing at the tree roots of friends to pull me out.

Black sticky smelly mud weighs down my shoes, bedraggles my hair. Yes, I’m alive- I’m safe from the virus, the pantry is full, and I’m typing this in front of the fire while the rain drums overhead.

I’m safe.

But my soft bleeding heart is simply bleeding. She patches herself up for a few hours; strikes a bold pose to a couple of upbeat songs, then wilts as the day moves on. Until bedtime, when all the lonely ghosts inside drift up, casting around for comfort and to be held.

To be soothed, and lullabied. To be warmed, and heard.

To be safe.

‘There’s nothing to be done G. You’re alone, and all you’ve ever truly had is You.’

This I do know. As I said in my last post, I know I’ll survive. But the illusion of deep connection and comfort was compelling, so I danced right on in there, eyes shining and heart open.

*sighs

The extrication has been difficult, and a month long so far. I’m tired, overwrought, and wounded. Then today I found this song, articulating feelings I hadn’t even got to yet.

Thanks Universe, for helping me out.

At a time when so much is going drastically wrong on a global scale for so many, I also don’t have to deny my pain, or minimise ways of coping with it. I never was one to drink whiskey and drown sorrows, but this young Scottish singer clearly shares my mood:

Finn Anderson – Funeral (acoustic feat. Nic Gareiss)

Where would we be in these trying quarantine times without music & dance? Whoever would have thought a shoe shuffle could be so melancholy?

In gratitude for the gifts of love and Art, G xO