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September Already?!

Whoa, so it has been ages since I’ve been here… I’ve been keeping an eye on things, but haven’t had a chance to post. It’s been a crazy year so far. Some major highs, like…

  • Buying (mortgaging) our first house, just 5 mins up the road from my good friend Jho’s place
  • Getting a new kitten (rescued off the road at 5wks old, poor wee thing, just in time for my birthday)

I hereby christen this kitten Fruit Tingle.

  • Ending a lease for the last time ever (no more renting!!)
  • Everyone going great guns at work and school
  • My health hitting a plateau (and since the only other way it could go was down, I’m taking plateau as a major win)
  • Yankee Elv getting dreadlocks, which she loves, and which killed my hands for the 50-odd hours it took me to do them for her

Yankee Elv loving her dreads (they were less than a week old at this point)

Yankee Elv's new hairdo gave me the perfect opportunity to rock a dreadstache.

  • Mr Teeny-bop getting taller than me and is starting to act less like an irritating teenager and more like a sensible verging-on-grown-up boy
  • Our old mate The Dyke Mike coming back down under… maybe for good again
  • My vegan-ness continues unabated
  • …and did I mention our new house? Quarter of an acre, baby!

Yankee Elv running around the lounge room on the day we got the keys.

But there have been some heavy lows too. The biggest and hardest hitting was Loodle and Old Man Fatso leaving us for greener pastures/another turn at the wheel. They were both very old and it was time… but it still sucked. It’s been since January for Fatso and since May for Loodle, but we still miss them and catch ourselves looking for them. That’s probably partly why I haven’t been here too much. I didn’t feel like I could write about it. Time helps, a bit.

Fatso and Loodle in times gone by.

Otherwise… Yankee Elv’s health has gone down as mine has improved plateaued and we’re not sure what’s going on with her yet. The car has been a never-ending money pit, but we have found an awesome mechanic and our new place is closer to Yankee Elv’s work, so there’s less driving (better for us and the planet!) and everything seems to be on track now. There’s an enormous possum in our ceiling who refuses to leave and is probably peeing all over everything up there as I type. I think his little minion possums come bring him food and water. He sounds like an overgrown wombat wandering around over our heads.

But in the grand scheme of things, life hasn’t been treating us too badly. Some days are diamonds, some… no, I’m not going to go there John Denver. Especially since I only realised the lyrics were ‘stones’ when I looked them up just now. I always thought he said ‘dogs’. Why did I think that?

Sorry, sidetracked.

So anyway, basically, I’m here to say I’m here. I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, I still read your comments and I still think of things to write here all the time. I just haven’t been able to get here to write anything. Mortgages involve a lot of paperwork. Paperwork = time-consuming.

I hope to get here more often from now on, I’ve got lots I want to say, but I’m going to be honest. No promises. There’s lots we want to do with the new house to get it just how we want it and the rest of my family are planning on applying for Aussie citizenship shortly, now they’re eligible. More paperwork; more time. But I’ll pop back again at least periodically, if not regularly… maybe I’ll do some shorter posts. Somewhere between the microblogging of Twitter and the super-epic-macroblogging I tend to do here.

So on that note, I leave you with one of the awesome surprises we found it our backyard (it was a stick when we moved in and suddenly, rapidly, ended up like this):

Mulberries

More mulberries (there are tonnes of them)

Peaches! I think it's a dwarf peach tree.

More to come…

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A Quick Word from the Abyss

Hello loyal folks! You must be loyal if you’re still checking out my blog after all this time without a post. I promise I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve just been swamped and tired fatigued (apparently that’s what I’m supposed to say when I’m tired these days, since there’s a medical reason for it – except I don’t feel nearly as all-consumingly exhausted as other people describe, which makes me wonder if I am actually just plain old tired after all). I even wrote a catch-up post about a month ago – but I was interrupted before I could post it, then I got too busy to even log on for a while! I just posted it now, backdated, so you can go have a look at my thoughts from that time.

Following on from that post: clearly the first month of my new job did turn out to be a kicker. I don’t know why I thought it would be otherwise. Maybe because the job is easier and slower than my old job in so many ways.

However, you know what it’s like – anytime you start a new job you’re exhausted and overwhelmed for at least the first month. I was like that even when I started as a check-out chick operator at Coles as a teenager! (I actually used to hear the sounds of the cash registers in my head when I lay in bed after work.) I’m finally now coming out of the mire of newness… a little bit. To add to that, there have been a rash of health problems in my family – some very serious – so that has been occupying my mind too. For a while I didn’t have the mental capacity (aka space left in my brain) to think of new posts for little old Eco Lesbo Vego, but now they’re coming thick and fast. There are lots of things I want to write about – I have some really interesting topics that will hopefully be coming your way soon. Friday Feast recipes, too.

Queensland Rail (QR) train.

I work out of several locations now, and some are much further away than my old job, so I find myself doing lots more travelling. I'm looking into upgrading to a smartphone so I can post while I'm on the train. (I'm not being a terrible environmentalist by getting a new phone; I've had my current mobile for 6 years and it was second-hand when I got it. If I was to say my phone 'is on its last legs', it would be an understatement.)

Basically, this little note is just to say:

  • I haven’t forgotten this blog – or the people that read it (thanks for coming back time and again!)
  • I’m still vegan and I’m still cooking up new vegan recipes to share with you; they’ll be coming soon
  • Look out for new posts in the near future – I’m not finished writing about ELVish stuff yet!

I hope you’ll continue to stick with me and share your own insights. I’ll be right back!

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My Spontaneous Hiatus

You may have noticed (I hope you noticed!) that I’ve been incommunicado for almost a month. Ok, not totally, thanks to Twitter, but I haven’t posted here for a while. Not even a Friday Feast recipe, and I have several saved up waiting to share.

Basically, I took a break because life has been simultaneously kind and kicking me around a bit lately.

  • Kind = quitting my job, having a new job lined up, taking three weeks off work and finding out I don’t have this fairly debilitating disease my neurologist thought I might have.
  • Kicking = spending some time in hospital, spending some time at the dentist, finding out I have a different debilitating disease which will require daily injections as part of an proactive treatment regime.

There’s been other stuff going on too, like Mr Teeny-bop breaking his finger, Pou getting an abcess from a suspected cat fight, Loodle’s arthritis getting worse, Old Man Fatso losing his marbles from old age, Yankee Elv having some serious insomnia and Diva-cat being exceptionally diva-esque… but I figure these things are just part of my normal life. There always has to be something going on. This month just seemed excessively on, though.

So I took a break, from pretty much everything. I rather liked it.

Although I had three weeks with very few responsibilities, and I had all these plans of things I was going to do, I actually spent a sizable portion of my time in bed/on the couch/in the hammock reading books. I did acquire a new laptop (I’ve finally given up on second-hand ones after a series of duds) so I spent some time fiddling with it. I caught up with friends, watched my sister play hockey (field hockey – we’re in Queensland, after all), visited with my parents, watched my Diva and Fatso sleep, played pseudo-soccer with Pou, took Loodle to the dog park, cuddled with Yankee Elv and had some in-depth discussions with my budding playwright of a son. I slept a lot too. Getting up on Monday morning is going to hurt.

diva and fatso

Diva and Fatso sleep so cutely together that you can't help stopping to look at them.

So basically, although I had a tonne of time to write posts here, I chose to spend that time in a state of pure relaxation. I don’t regret that.

However, I’m getting back into the groove of things, so hopefully you’ll see some more from me soon. On the other hand, who knows whether my new job will be kind or a kicker? Here’s hoping it’s the former!

mr teeny-bop and cashew the pig.

Just for fun, here's a picture of Mr Teeny-bop hanging out with Cashew the miniature pig at my hometown show (fair).

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Sustainable Menstrual Pads

I read an article on BlogHer today called iPads and Maxi Pads: Changing Women’s Lives in Uganda. Alison McQuade (the author of the post) uses the hype around the new iPad to draw attention to a more important issue – that Ugandan girls are dropping out of school at puberty because they have no access to sanitary items (pads, panty liners, tampons, menstrual cups etc). It struck a chord with me today particularly because I’ve just been trying out a new cloth pad. I’ve had it for ages but have been so enamoured with my menstrual cup, supplemented with cloth panty liners, that I hadn’t worn it before today – and I just felt like trying it out. The sock monkey called to me.

Arty farty shot of my (then new) sock money pad, from Moon Pads. (The sock monkey part is one of the wings.)

Arty farty shot of my (then new) sock money pad, from Moon Pads. (The sock monkey part is one of the wings.)

Anyway, I digress.

I’ve heard before that many girls in third-world countries don’t have access to any menstrual items, but I was surprised that the solution suggested in the post was to donate to a non-profit group (the Kasiisi Project) who provide disposable pads to the girls. The other group I know of who used to try to combat the same issue was Goods 4 Girls, who provided cloth menstrual pads to African girls (Crunchy Chicken, who ran the group, has since had to let it go – I’m not sure if anyone else has taken up the mantle). The advantage of cloth pads, of course, is that they can be reused over and over again with just a simple washing between wears. Quite aside from the environmental impact, I envisaged the aftermath of introducing disposable pads as something like a less serious version of the Nestle baby powder tragedy of the 1970s/1980s. What would happen if the Kasiisi Project ran out of funds? The girls would run out of pads and be right back where they started.

However, I did a little more research and while I still think cloth pads are a better option, I like the holistic set-up the Kasiisi Project has set up better than the ‘make a pad and donate it’ style of Goods 4 Girls. (Of course, this likely came about because the Kasiisi Project is a well-established non-profit organisation and Goods 4 Girls was a one woman who took donations – so you know, fair enough, you do what you can.) The Kasiisi Project donates Maka Pads, which are produced in Uganda as part of a cottage industry – often employing the families of the girls who will benefit from them. They are made from locally-sourced papyrus and waste paper, using little electricity in production. They can be worn for 8 to 10 hours, much longer than a regular pad (depending on your flow of course), so you use less of them. They’re cheap (US 0.5 cents per pad) for the city women who buy them, but most of the rural girls access them through donation.

Clearly the people behind this part of the Kasiisi Project have thought beyond the immediate need of the girls who would otherwise miss out on an education – they have also considered how to help the community and the environment. If you’re interested, I found this video much more informative than the websites (unfortunately there is no captioning).

Now, don’t think I’m dissing Goods 4 Girls because I’m not. It was still a worthwhile effort, as is the Kasiisi Project – every little bit helps (in most cases). But you know what would be best of all? A combination of their methods, which would, in my opinion, be the best option. Keep up the local cottage industry, but produce cloth pads, which can be reused for a long time. Of course, that then brings up the question – where does the cloth for the pads come from? Is it possible the Kasiisi Project already considered this and found locally-sourced papyrus and waste paper to be the more sustainable option after all? I guess if you had to ship in the cloth over a long distance, that would be a significant impact in and of itself. Also, has the Kasiisi Project factored in the disposal of the used pads?

I may email them to find out. Will keep you posted!

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Wassup?

I haven’t been steadily posting recently cos I’ve either been busy or tired. Life has been interfering with my life! So here’s a snapshot (in hindsight, it’s more like a full school photo) of what’s been happening in the house of ELV.

The house of ELV (speaking of) is being sold – we have to move elsewhere. We don’t know for sure whether they want us to see out the lease for a few more months, or leave ASAP (although they can’t force us), but already plent of debate about buy vs rent has ensued. We’ve decided to rent again for now. So the house-hunting begins. I will miss our friendly neighbour even if he does kill passionfriut vines and can’t understand most of what I say. I already miss the duck at the other neighbour’s house – I don’t know what happened to cute little Mishka. I will also miss the sounds of the chooks over the back clucking away in the mornings. *sigh* I hate moving.

My butternut pumpkin vines are growing rampantly and have already started to flower (so pretty!). If we can stay for a few more months, I may get a pumpkin or two. Otherwise, the new owner will be feasting on the fruits of my labour.

I’ve been telecommuting up a storm, which has proved more enjoyable than I anticipated. I really thought I’d miss the camraderie of the office, but due to a combination of many of my chatty friends moving to other jobs and the use of collaborative technology to talk to my remaining friends, it has been pretty cool. I get more work done and my lungs enjoy the lack of air conditioning. I’m only going into the office once this week. Think how little the impact of my transportation is this week!

I read No Impact Man‘s book. I liked it, although it did get a little preachy at times, but only momentarily, then it went back to interestingly philosophical and funnily anecdotal at the same time. It took me back to when I first started reading No Impact Man’s blog a couple of years ago. I loved it and it inspired me no end. It was nice to feel that zeal again. A note though: why was it ok to tell the world that his wife used menstrual cups, but not share what he used instead of toilet paper? I’m not one for secrecy about bodily functions anyway, although I respect his choice not to expose everything, but isn’t that a bit of a double standard? (I shan’t stir up controversy by discussing what this double standard may indicate…).

My buddy went to Singapore and all I got were these two metal ear diggers. I only got them on the proviso that I blogged about them! Yankee Elv and I have both tried them. Apparently I have pretty clean ears, so nothing much is happening for me, although I’ve heard good things from others. Yankee Elv doesn’t get dirty ears at all (we’re not sure why, perhaps something to do with a lack of inner ear hair due to deafness?). She mostly uses cotton tips to itch the ear in which she wears her hearing aid. For this purpose, she tells me, the ear digger is a poor substitute – she can’t think of anything other than a cotton tip that will do the job, as she doesn’t like the hard, scrape-y feeling of the ear digger. Can anyone think of an alternative?

I’ve been reducing the amount of soy milk I’m consuming, since I’ve increased my intake of soy yoghurt and soy cheese as I’ve struggled through my first six weeks of veganism. I’ve been supplementing my soy milk intake with oat milk, and thought I’d do a little unofficial research into which is the best. Expect an oat milk review post coming soon.

Something is eating my sweet potato leaves. I thought it was a caterpillar, but I only saw it on them once. For a while I saw these shiny little bugs about the size of large fleas, but they seemed to disappear a week or so ago. Now they’re just holey leaves. What has been munching them?

I’ve decided before we move house, I am going to take cuttings of rosemary, pink frangipanis and jade plant. All three are growing brilliantly here and I don’t want to lose them. The grapefruits aren’t in season or I’d plant some seeds – the grapefruit tree really is prolific in its bounty and produces the most enormous, spectacular, juicy fruit. Alas, I think I shan’t be around to see it this year. Does anyone know if you can grow native ginger from a cutting? I’m sure we have some of that somewhere too…

I’m looking for a copy of Sharon Astyk’s Depletion and Abundance at the library as I’ve heard it’s good. I used to read her blog, but found it too heavy for my short internet attention span. I think I will like it better in book form. Unless I know the author or have read the book already, I try to get all my books from the library. What’s the point of wasting resources and space with a bazillion books you’re only going to read once? I like the books on my shelves to be old friends.

I’ve been trying hard to be a good vegan, and I think I’m mostly succeeding, but I haven’t always been able to keep a cheery face on. Now, you might think that a cheery face about veganism isn’t necessary, but I think it is when you’re talking about it with non-vegans. As a vegetarian, I always present the face of ‘gosh, I am supportive of everyone’s choices, and if you want to eat meat, that’s your right – but wow, vegetarianism is easy, tasty, fun, healthy, good for the environment… wow, it’s just so great!’. Yeah, that’s quite a face. I better hope the wind doesn’t change. However, I guess I didn’t have as many people to talk with when I first went veg, as opposed to now, when all my co-workers know and ask me how it’s going. They are all very supportive, but I find it hard to publicly keep my chin up on a day when I’m really missing cheese or chocolate – especially since these things are often to be found in our office! I think they all think I’m a bit of a fringey, fanatic weirdo – in a nice way, of course. Telecommuting has helped since I’m not around those foods so much, and so has Lindt Lindor’s 70% dark chocolate (I know it’s not Fair Trade, but one step at a time)… but still, I find myself feeling guilty over my inability to be perky, sunshiny vegan at work. Breaking the dairy addiction is hard – much harder than giving up meat was! Sometimes I think it’s too hard and I’m being mean to myself (after all, isn’t life about experiences? I like my experiences to be as pleasant as I can make them). I think maybe I could just get dairy sparingly, from a nice organic farm… but then I think of the baby cows, especially the bobby calves, and their poor mamas! I think the guilt I’d feel over that would surpass any nice feelings the cheese/chocolate/ice-cream gave me. And so I stick with it. Soldier on, you know. Codral hit the nail on the head with that one.

Yankee Elv and I went to the West End markets on Saturday. We missed out on Dagwood Dogs from Ykillamoocow, to our surprise. They normally start cooking them at 10am and this week they started at 7am, bowing to popular demand. Not my demand, I like a sleep-in! I got a pumpkin/barley roll (kind of like a vegan sausage roll, but one that isn’t trying to taste like herbed, minced animal bits. It was a tasty breakfast with the home-made tamarind sauce and the homestyle lemonade we bought. Plus I had a few of Yankee Elv’s Greek honey puffs for dessert, and a vegan melting moment (passionfruit cream, from The Bakery V stall). We also tried Hibiscus juice (gorgeous, tasted similar to sweetened cranberry juice), tapenade, local honey (also not vegan, I knooooow), pineapple chunks and more juice. We were quite restrained really. We got lots of stuff, including some things I haven’t tried before (parsnips and fresh olives, like, right off the tree kind of fresh). I also got a couple of plantains, which I think I’m going to use in a curry, plus lots of our usual kinds of veges/fruits. I loved going to the counter and paying tiny amounts; I paid 75 cents for the two most enormous carrots ever. I did not like going within a five stall radius of the feral seafood stall. We mightn’t eat fish, but Yankee Elv and I both grew up around seafood and I’m sorry, but if it smells like that then you do not want to be putting it in your body. Ew. We wound up the morning with a visit to Reverse Garbage, but didn’t buy anything. It’s fun just to look and imagine.

Only two of my spring onions have lived and they are tiny – I think they drowned in their wet little corner. From one extreme to another with them! I’ll try again at the new place. I can’t tell my carrots from the weeds, so I guess the new owner will be in for a surprise eventually…

The new Clem 7 tunnel is brilliantly fast, but apparently has tonnes (literally) more pollution that was originally estimated. I don’t know that the two air sucker towers (I can’t remember what they’re called! One is Jacaranda purple and the other is Poinciana red) are doing their job.

jacaranda

One of the Clem 7 air sucker tower things is the colour of the flowers on the Jacaranda trees.

Motorists have been advised not to wind down their windows in the tunnel because the pollution is so bad. We found this out after we spent 25 mins in a traffic jam in there, with the windows down cos our car has no air conditioning. This is why I like buses. The tunnel was very zippy outside of peak hours though, taking about 4 mins from end to end.

I’ve just remembered I haven’t hung out the wet sheets and blankets I washed, which made me think of the clothes line, which made me remember that all potential new houses must have a place for an under-the-house line. The list of requirements seems to be mounting.

And I have also realised that I’ve written a tonne! Clearly I needed a post like this. I started on the oat milk review yesterday and it just seemed to drag and things kept distracting me… sometimes I guess you need to just let it all flow out higgledy-piggledy.

Speaking of pigs (well, piggledy, close enough) – look!

edgar alan pig

It's Edgar Alan Pig from Edgar's Mission! He's so cute!

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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Unforsaken

Oh wee blog, I have not foresaken thee.

I am just swamped at work (typical) and now feel I have tried everything to get unswamped in my current role. As such, I feel comfortable that I’ve given it my best shot and will feel no regrets to leave. In the past I’ve made efforts to leave in a sort of angry ‘I can’t take this anymore’ kind of way. In contrast, I’m now working with folks to transfer to a different department within the same company. Initially, I think my workload will increase, but ultimately I think it will be better for me, my work-life balance overall, and my career prospects.

Also, I’ve been diagnosed with a reasonably serious illness in my spine. Serious in that it requires a series of day visits to the hospital for treatment (which I’m currently undergoing) and regular MRIs, but not that serious, in that it’s not degenerative or terminal or anything, although it might recur over time. Plus, it’s mild so far, so I’ll be ok… I’m not going to end up paralysed at this point! And hey, I’m re-using my hospital band… it’s loose enough for me to slip off my wrist, so I asked if I could just use the same one over and over and the nurses said I could, since I’m always the same person lol.

By the way, why do hospitals give you nasty sandwiches for lunch? I mentioned I was vego and I got egg and lettuce on white bread… none of which I eat, and all of which were particulary nasty versions of the foods in question. The woman who got them for me though was so proud to offer a meatless meal that I didn’t have the heart to not eat something… so I did some fancy bread slice switching so I didn’t have to eat the egg and then ate most of the disgusting lettuce sandwiches… I kinda hid some under the crusts though. I felt not eating crusts was kinda socially acceptable enough for me to leave them. I never even practiced food hiding as a kid, either… my mum had the eagle eye for food. I got served up peas for breakfast once because I wouldn’t eat them for tea. Mum won the battle but I won the war… she didn’t serve me peas again, but as a compromise, I had to eat lettuce (something green had to be on the plate!). I wonder if the copious amounts of eggs and lettuce I ate as a kid have anything to do with my complete dislike of them now…

Anyway, what with that stuff, Mr Teeny-bop’s birthday (including the last ever sleepover part of DOOM) and starting school, Yankee Elv’s on-going work woes and her own health issues, Loodle the escapee crossing a major road (fortunately in the middle of the night with much less traffic) and organising a bunch of extra stuff at work (such as the local company Clean Up Australia day), it’s been pretty full on.

However, just to show you that I haven’t forgotten you, and I’m still keeping up with all things weird and wonderful and environmental…

Check out these awesomely cool living root bridges! We have trees like this here in Brisbane so bridges like this would definitely be doable.

Root bridges in India

Root bridges in India

Living Root Bridges can tell you more about why they’re awesome…

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