“Speak good words or remain silent”

Stealthy like this cat who lives near our other house is how I felt this week – into a routine of gym in the morning and back afterwards to study and write and edit my assignments for Uni. I can see the light at the end of the teaching period now with just one week to go!

Friday I found an injured possum on the road and called Wildlife Victoria to help but their volunteer did not arrive in time and the poor creature had died when I came back after the gym. The little fella got run over by a car outside my daughters school and I did not want the school kids to see it so I had to get a box to dispose of the poor fella. So he was put in the big bin at the school, so sad! Later that arvo I need to be with some peeps and volunteered with some lovely people at Peppertree Place Nursery just up the road from my house. It is a very special place which has been reopened recently and I serendipitously wandered by one day and asked if I could volunteer with them, Friday I was weeding and digging in the earth for nasturtiums and chatting about possum proofing their garden beds.

My community circle is opening up now and my daughters friends mum has a local business called Smalt (Smoked Salt) and it is just delicious. So on Friday I ordered some and it was exactly what I needed to inspire me in the kitchen for Friday nights dinner. I made an amazing tzatzaki with locally made felafel and a huge salad it was so delicious. And for dessert Smalt fudge which is divine, we have managed to eat most of it this week – we will be ordering some more soon! Such an splendid end to the day.

Oh and my bike is back with me, it is so good to be back on the trail with my bike and over the weekend I went on the bike track that goes for kilometres right next to our house. The ride on Sunday in between assignment writing was perfect for a brain break and it was so fun, there were hills and it was then I realised my tyres needed to be pumped and my chain needs to be greased after its journey across the sea.

I went on my first excursion with my daughters school on Wednesday to the Islamic Museum of Australia. We went by tram with 21 kids and 2 teachers and 4 parent volunteers in the icy cold winds of Melbourne winter we walked to the tram, hopped the tram, walked again, hopped another tram and walked again – the kids were done by then! Still they were excited to be there and so was I.

It was such a wonderful experience learning about Islamic religion and culture. The educator Sharene was so engaging with her anecdotes and stories. I enjoyed hearing about a story of the Prophet Muhammed and how he would not even kill an ant to start a fire. To me this resonated with my knowledge of Buddhism and not killing any living things. After the presentation and the museum I had greater insight of Islam and how important it is for me have an understanding of neighbours in my community.

This man on the ceiling was an Islamic inventor who tried to fly off a mountain in Morocco – he tried but failed but what was missing on his flying contraption was the tail.

There were so many informative displays explaining Islamic faith and the 5 pillars in one gallery space where a friend of mine was explaining in greater detail about each one to me about praying 5 times a day on their prayer rug and its connection to yoga, which I connected immediately with my yoga mat.

Another space focussed on art and this was my favourite area. The beautiful embroidered piece of cloth is from Mecca and is only a part of a massive detailed piece which you see later in the museum in the architecture area.

The art was charming with the peacock mosaic catching my eye – it was an art piece that you could touch to feel the detail in the tile and mosaic. The arabic calligraphy is another element that I was enjoyed and the detail in the geometric art and tessellation in design detail is what I love. The surfboards were created by an artist in Sydney, with another interesting story which I will have to research next time I visit.

Presented in this display is the history of calligraphy in Islam and is viewed as and expression of the highest art form, again this was interesting to me as I always viewed it purely as Chinese calligraphy. In this calligraphic style I am drawn to the swirls and interesting pattern detail.

The connection of Islam to Australia was fascinating as I had read about this in my Indigenous studies but it only touched on the connection with the trading of the sea slugs with the Aborginals of Australia. The gallery space shared greater insight with the connections to famous Australian Muslims and the cultural connections to Australia. It is interesting how this connection can spark such a fascinating display of culture that everyone needs to experience – this is what education is about to break down the walls of ignorance and open our eyes to others. And in our education session, the kids played a game to sort out this quote, by Prophet Muhammad “speak good words or remain silent”. Just beautiful. Peace.

William Ricketts Sanctuary – the Dandenongs Day 3

To visit this sanctuary it will take your breath away with its dedication to the plight of Indigenous Australians by the sculptor William Ricketts. According to the video interview, William’s spirit animal was the Lyrebird where you see him dance as a Lyrebird sharing his inspiration and love for the earth and Indigenous Australia. I loved his sincere dedication as being the channel to share this art with the world. This sanctuary is a place of beauty, contemplation and peace where you are surrounded by a history of Indigenous Australia. Where the connection to the earth is fully present in what we need to see today, this sanctuary is something humanity has dealt with – the cruelty of colonialism. But breaking through the ugliness of this is the beauty in people and hope that we can exist on this earth together with nature.

After our William Ricketts experience we drove down to Birdsland Reserve to have a picnic lunch and go for a wander around the waters where we found a heron and a cormorant. Our Air Bnb host said to arrive there early in the morning or later in the afternoon to see lots of kangaroos. But as our day panned out we were there in the middle of the day and as we sat down at our table we were immediately surrounded by kookaburras! As Missy was about to eat a hot cross bun a kookaburra swooped down and landed on our table, we took one look at that beak and decided it would be safer to move somewhere else away from this wild kookas as I had heard they will steal snags from the BBQ.

After the Rone exhibition we went on the Sherbrooke Falls hike where we wandered on a small 45 minute walk in amongst the trees to see a little creek and find the small waterfall. I was thankful as our host told us not to expect Niagara falls which helped curb the excitement! The kids loved these very friendly Rosellas, due to humans feeding these guys over the years they have learnt to be trusting of humans and come very close to see if they can score some food.

Rone Empire in the Dandenong Ranges – Day 2

These pictures capture our time in this incredible exhibition experience! I have never experienced anything like this before in my life with the way that artists collaborated in such a way that you felt that you were among someones life left long ago, love that has been lost and left behind to wither over the ages. It was absolutely breath taking in its grandeur and the organic elements within taking over the house was something so unexpected and worked so beautifully. The addition of the technology element with augmented reality where you could see how the space was before it had been transformed through to the end of the exhibition with a gallery space and a virtual reality film where you felt immersed in the whole process of transformation. I was so happy to experience this with the children they just loved it too and were there with their phones capturing their favourite elements of the exhibit right down to the details.

Here you see the augmented reality and the way the room looked before it was transformed into the sun room space complete with a knitting bag. The hallway arbour of sticks was stunning and felt so natural in the space. I was chatting to one of the exhibition people and they were saying as it is a heritage building it is going back to the way it was before and apparently in the future it will be a fancy hotel.

Treasure or trash – seeing the light after 12 years

Last week we hung out in our house awaiting the old and the new. First I had to get a fridge and washing machine delivered to the house but because the door frame at the house is so tiny the fridge would not fit through the door! Drama #1 meant what do I do about getting a monolith fridge into a small house? Luckily we had some quick thinking delivery dudes who called up their mate to come and take the doors off the fridge and bring it into the house! Next was Drama #2 the shipping container that held a box of our stuff from 12 years ago!! The kids were very excited as they thought there might be some treasure in those boxes but no – they were disappointed as the boxes were mostly full of trash – oops I mean, memories and mementoes of our past life. Funny thing is we have lots of book boxes that I am using as a bed base for now – so I don’t need to look through them. Plus there are so many VCR tapes but luckily I found someone who can recycle them and take most of this stuff away.

We have been enjoying our little day trips into the city by train as it is only 30 minutes away and so easy to get to. The Australian Open is in full swing today so we got in nice and early so we could go to the NGV to see the Escher exhibition nice and early Between Two Worlds.

Going to an exhibition with the kids can seem a bit daunting especially when they go in and are not so thrilled to wander in a crowded space and look at the art on the walls. This exhibit was different as it began with a digital walkthrough in the dark to the beginnings of Escher’s work by travelled through each space or period of his life. For me it was so exciting to actually see these prints in real life! I have been a long time Escher fan stemming from my background in Graphic Art.

A space that I loved was the Transforming House space where the houses were designed and inspired by tessellation. It is phenomenal how the elements of negative and positive space within a tessellation mess with your mind. This is a lesson of instructions Escher created to share to students on a complex design on tessellations.

Gathered House was another fave space of mine where I felt totally disorientated as to where I was going next. It was an installation in a circular room where you looked at the artwork on many perspectives to form the shadow of a house it was so incredible when you look at the detail of die cut paper.

Soon it was time to end the exhibition which was sad, I will have to say it has to be one of the best exhibitions I have been to in a very long time! The whole immersion of the space and the artwork including a soundscape and a video really captured the feeling of each period in Escher’s artistic path. At the end of the exhibit, before we hit the gift shop there was a room dedicated concept pieces for the nendo art spaces and his overall theme of the house shape (I bought a cap for the memories). In the end, the kids were so excited to share their pictures with their dad and friends and loved the whole experience, they especially loved the interactivity of the exhibit and that is something we all loved by being able to play in the space.

It has been two weeks back and I am happy to say that everything is falling into place with where we are going to be living including our plans for our house build and the kids’ school. I still have to motivate myself to study but for now, I got an extension on my essay as I am taking breaks in between organising the move into our house. Still, it is so hot that it is nice to stay inside in the air conditioning. Next stop study and for brain breaks, it is will be time in the garage sorting through stuff! Anyone looking for some crystal glasses? How fancy!

Food In LA and Good Times

The best papusa at Saritas at Grand Central Market
Thanksgiving with our friends in O-town
Calligraphy
Matcha Latte in SLO
Inspiration by Murakami
Vegetarian Sushi on Sunset
Sunset at Echo Park Lake
Swan on Echo Park Lake
Exercise with the Swan
Beautiful Coral bark tree
Yayoi Kusama at The Broad
Latte at Grand Central Market
G&B Menu 
Inside G&B Menu
Finally made it to Grand Central Market
Outside little pine – Moby’s vegan restaurant
little pine – a beautiful vegan restaurant
Dessert with praline at little pine
Gingerbread cheesecake at little pine
Dear animals at little pine
little pine vegan menu
Guisado’s tacos
Palm trees on the Hollywood trail
History of okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki on the hotplate in Little Tokyo
Artwork in Silver Lake
Fam Bam at our friends pad
Avocado toast at Paso Robles
Walt Disney concert hall

A Few Days in LA

For our last family adventure in California, we did a road trip to LA to see what we could find. The itinerary was influenced by the film La La Land and advice from friends about where to go, what to eat and what to check out. 

We decided to do the scenic route on the 101 to find places to stop off and stretch our legs and have a break. The first stop was Paso Robles for lunch and we found this great spot called Brunch where I found some delicious avocado toast with sprouts and balsamic, it was so good. At this cafe, we also bought some treats from the attached cheese shop with a salted baguette made by a local baker and local cheese to take to our friend’s house in LA. 

Saturday: We arrived in LA and visited some friends of ours who moved away from the Bay and enjoyed some time with them and had dinner together – it was so good to catch up! Later we checked into our Air Bnb the Habana Hut in Silver Lake and enjoyed a good nights sleep in a gorgeous spot high on a hill.

Sunday: Waking up the next morning we wandered down to the local 365 by Whole Foods Market to get supplies and have breakfast – just a walk away. In the afternoon we took a Lyft over to Little Tokyo in downtown LA for the kids to check out the fun stuff. I have never seen so many Pusheens in my life! While we were there we got into The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for free admission on the weekend, so it was a great score. The gallery Space was incredible and I loved the artwork, the rest of the family was a bit undecided as they were saying how is this art? For me, I have been suffering from a huge lack of culture and art so this was super exciting for me that I was chatting to all the staff about the art pieces and the artists. 

Monday: Our plan for was to hike to the Hollywood sign and the kids really did not want to do an 8-mile hike so I did a bit of research and we started the hike from the Charlie Turner Trailhead at the Griffith Observatory car park and we did about 2.5 miles in and out as the kids were bored. The track was lovely and wide but take a hat and a snack as the whole trail is exposed, in the summer it would be so hot! On our way back we took in the view from Captain’s Roost, a selection of fire-charred palm trees surrounded by spectacular succulents including a fire stick bush and massive agave, it was so cool to see them. After we came back to the car park we enjoyed some time wandering around the Griffith Park Observatory (note, it is closed on Monday) to enjoy some photo opportunities and the incredible views of the expanse of Los Angeles. 

Enjoying our relaxing time at the observatory checking out the building and the artwork we found a hummingbird and Ash was very keen to make friends with this guy! I managed to get in for a closeup shot and then an action shot of a hummer giving Ash a flash before flying off into the distance.

After the little hike and wander to Griffith Observatory, we drove down to Los Feliz to the Fern Dell trail. This little trail was briefly featured in La La Land it was a cool location to discover and explore for some interesting foliage and trees and the kids enjoyed looking for goldfish and crayfish in the little streams. The cute red squirrel was a rare sight for me as I only see the grey ones on the redwood tree in my back garden – this guy is praying to be invisible to the dog.  Oh and after a hike, we enjoyed some tacos at Guisados in Echo Park – highly recommended by a local, where the tortillas were fresh and fish and vegetable tacos were delicious. 

One thing I really enjoyed about LA is the street art everywhere – it reminds me a lot of Melbourne with their laneways of murals created by local artists. The kids enjoyed the fact that artists are commissioned to create art for the streets. I love this Audrey Hepburn mural that we discovered when we wandered into the Toy District of DTLA. 

Tuesday: We packed in around four stops on our trip to downtown LA beginning with booking tickets for The Broad a month ago. So before we hit the gallery the plan was to go to Grand Central Market and check out the food and of course, coffee! To get to the market we took a Lyft to Angels Flight – a cute little funicular tram that took less than a minute to travel downhill, the kids enjoyed it very much and at $1 it was just fine! At the market, I found the tastiest latte made with almond-macadamia milk and served in a 10 oz glass, just the way I like it. From our coffees, my hubby and kids had tacos and horchata then we wandered down to The Last Bookstore for lots of fun photo opportunities and an excellent selection of books! The second floor also had many artist studios with artwork for sale. Oh and we briefly wandered into the Bradbury building to get a feel for history and see where some scenes from Bladerunner were filmed and we did all of this before lunch! 

After lunch we had our tickets to The Broad, I was so happy to be there and see the art that I had only read about in art history books for real. Plus the building itself is spectacular outside and in. To get tickets for this gallery is to book in advance where the tickets are available one month in advance and it is completely free! Now, where on earth can you experience this dream of visiting rooms of contemporary artists in such splendour. The huge sculpture by Nancy Rubin outside is by the MOCA and to us, it looked like a chicken. The kids were done with galleries by this time but if you are alone it would be the perfect end to the day.  Though we did zip across the road to see the Walt Disney Concert Hall which is another marvel of architecture – those pics are on my phone which I need to upload soon. 

Wednesday: On our way home we drove by the hills burned by the fires in Ventura and stopped at Rincon Island (a now-defunct oil drilling platform with a super long jetty). I can see why it was shut down due to pollution as the water there is beautiful and clear and full of life with anemones and mussels by the bunch with a beautiful stretch of beach looking towards Rincon Point known for its perfect surf. 

I had no expectations of our trip to LA and I had heard from friends that they either loved it or hated it. My experience is that I loved it and really enjoyed our experience there with so much to see in such a sprawl and from what I did see I really enjoyed the art and food with no shortage of vegetarian options! One standout was Little Pine a vegan restaurant owned by Moby with all the proceeds going to animal organisations (I found out about it on Insta). It was a dream come true for me going to a vegan restaurant, the food was delicious and filling and the desserts were so tasty – so if you ever go make sure you order wisely and save room for dessert.

I have no idea why I have not spent more time in LA in the twelve years I have been living here but hey better late than never.

Arts with some crafts

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Yes, we can be bigger together, and it was such a big week of amazing art and time with incredible talented children! My friend, a ceramic artist, volunteers with our school and made this beautiful display of student work inspired by the book BIG by Coleen Paratore.

In addition to the ceramic works here are a few of my faves at the show – at tribal mask made in the 3D class, a dragon made in the materials class and a picture on wood in the photography class. Of course, there was so much more art I loved, but I was too busy chatting with friends and socialising to get more pics!

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Thursday was the second arts focus class, and our amazing class of lots of enthusiastic sewers made some beautiful octo-pie from yarn.

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This talented 5th grader made a super cool cat hat out of fleece that I will feature in the art show.

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Another of young student made her octopus with help braiding from a 5th grader.

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This is an extra project made by a 5th grader who chose to be in sewing – I am so happy to see such creative and talented sewers ready to work with a needle.

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In my kinder class, the kids are working on ideas for a dollhouse and this is what they came up with for the kids working with blocks, and they have included their little dolls in the scene too. This is a wonderful way to explore architecture.

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These two rascals enjoyed chicken time on Monday with the yin and yang chickens Luna and Snowflake.

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And I am counting the time until my oven is fixed – the heating element broke last Thursday, and since then I have been trying to get it fixed when some clowns said they would charge $400 to fix it when the part alone is $70 now that is extortion. So my hubby said he could fix it for me though let’s see how that unfolds, till then I have to be creative with the sandwich grill as I used that to grill the fish for Taco Tuesday today.

Anyway here is our delicious wild salmon rice bowl from Monday night as I wanted something easy for a Monday and a rice cooker is an excellent option of cooking while making something else – like the crispy salmon skin and salad.

 

Myths and Legends

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What a lovely collection of books and placing Myths right next to the Orwell book 1984 is pretty funny as 1984 does not really feel like a myth anymore! Still, the legends are the books next door a bunch of Star Wars parody books – yes more humour is what we need. Now on to last week that went by in a flash! It was a night of teaching double drawstring bags at the library followed by my birthday then a night out to the Arts Focus exhibition, and then Thursday night it was PBL (Project Based Learning) night and Open house at school. Friday night I still had to polish up my science essay so I could submit it this week! Just too much – I think I need to stop and breathe, which is why I went to Yoga on Saturday!

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The double drawstring bag sewing workshop at the library was a hit with a full class of 12 students who were eager to get their bags completed. We have 1.5 hours in the community room – so it is over pretty quickly. A lucky few did get them done, but lucky the library has open hours for sewing over the weekend and during the weekend for the students to complete their bags. The prep for this workshop is just cutting the fabric to size, and lucky my friend gave me a box of fabric I could use for this class that was just perfect.

Myth – I do not like alcohol! I have not been drinking as I need a clear head to write essays and focus on my University work, but it was lovely to have just one cocktail and feel pretty good! A fact I do love food, feeling uninspired by the Bay Area offerings for food locally I opted for a ‘sustainable seafood’ restaurant called Pacific Catch that opened up in the local shopping centre. Ideally, I am wanting one of those fantastic Portland restaurants that serve alcohol and raw vegan, local, organic food, but alas that is not to happen here, it’s more about the beers and the burgers – boring! Anyway, I will be back home in Melbourne soon and the food there is the best. Still, I had a lovely feast at Pacific Catch with some appetisers starting with some Poke – absolutely delicious! The coconut shrimp – very moreish but not too good for someone who doesn’t eat fried food too often. My main was fish tacos served with black beans and creole fries, yummo! Though the fries had to be passed on to my hubby and the kids as they were too much fried goodness for me. Afterwards (as there were no real exciting dessert options at this restaurant) we wandered downtown Mountain View to my fave treat place – Alexanders Patisserie and had a lemon tart and some other incredible mascarpone based deliciousness! Such a lovely evening of eating with the family 😀

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My friend’s ceramics exhibit

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The beautiful cat quilt – the group work

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The dragon and fire quilt – the other group work

 

Wednesday was another night out with the Arts where I have a job of interviewing the kids for a newsletter article about the joys of the Arts Focus program. A program entirely run by parent volunteers who teach in the classroom for 12 weeks of the year – with an exhibition in between each one. A totally immersive hands-on experience with art that the kids absolutely adore. I am so happy to be a part of the team and teach the kids sewing. This program has inspired me to do my Degree in Teaching for when we return to Australia, though I have less than 4 years or so to completion. I am enjoying the classes, and it is quite exciting to use what I have experienced and bring it to my lessons. I am learning so much new information, and I love it. Now back to writing my World of Maths essay about ‘How Constructivism is the best way to teach math.’

We are a community

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Last week was the final week of our Arts Focus classes at our school, it is always a fun ride for the 12 weeks of the year with the art show after the first session of 6 weeks. Following on is the second six-week session, and the art show will be on view at City Hall beginning next week. I have my class of 26 kids artwork on show, and this time I managed to get a broad range of pieces from hats, fabric collages, pipe cleaner dolls, embroidery, Felt LED cuffs and Felt Animals. The quilts are just beautiful with is super cool cat fabric and a dragon quilt as well – thanks to the parent volunteers of the sewing team who choose and sew up the quilts for this session. The quilt will be offered for bids at the Silent Auction to the parents of the kiddos who were in the sewing class.

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I always enjoy what the kids create, and this time we had some extra time, and they could make another project focussing on their stitch work and embellishing. The hat and the bunny were created by kindergarten children who used their stitches in an interesting way. The bear in the centre pic is made by a 2nd grader who took great pride in her work. I love to see anyone enjoying the needle arts and to see kids stretch themselves by experimenting is such a joyful experience!

Speaking of seeing experimental needle arts in action…  Monday I taught a sewing workshop at the Mountain View Public Library on making a small purse from repurposed interior design fabric from FabMo. The fun part is always seeing what fabrics people choose for the purses – this project only needed 3 pieces. I like to see how people matched or mismatched their fabric to get the desired effect. I have worked with these fabrics for a long time, and it took me ages to feel free working with a tonal collection of fabrics or even just mixing the patterns. The class was 12 adults and about a quarter of the class completed the project in the 1.5-hour class – a lot of time was spent deliberating on the fabric choice! Still, once it is on the sewing machine, this project is a breeze.

I will leave this week with my International Women’s day, A day without a woman picture. The Pussyhat project wanted to see some hats up on their website for the day, so I found my rainbow and pink pussyhat. To go with the rainbow theme, I found this delightful picture my daughter made for me years ago with rainbows and black crows. It seemed relevant for the moment showing that no matter how many black crows (or darkness) is on the horizon there is always love and rainbows. I enjoy being part of a community be it at the library or my school, and we work together for the common good of all – now and always. Peace xo

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