Buttons and bread


Buttons are small daily objects that quietly connect things. They join things up, they hold us together. This blog features buttons as a way of reminding us of the little things that lie behind the actions we take to build strong communities.


The other part of this blog’s title represents the nourishment we get from participating in community life and that we can offer to others also. It is not the nourishment of the exotic, but the everyday sustenance of regular connections, ongoing work and play – bread rather than caviar.

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winnie the pooh

Today is the birthday of AA Milne, writer of Winnie the Pooh, and a glorious day it is too. I hope you are having a happy one!


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Remembering the bird

Yesterday I ran into an old friend at the supermarket. She now lives near Ballarat, but is here for a month or so to see her parents, who are 95 and 98. She, Christine, and her partner John invited me around for a cuppa and a catch up. It was lovely to see them, and to exchange news on our lives, books we like, memories too.

Today’s post is the result of this surprise meeting, and the memories it evoked of a camping trip I took with Christine and Brian (the latter died in 2004). We went to find letter wing kites, lovely birds who were nesting somewhere way out in the desert. We stayed at a few places – Montecollina Bore (just gorgeous) sticks in my mind – and we came back through the Flinders and Gammon Ranges – the first gobsmacking time I had ever been there too. There were 5 of us altogether – Christine and Brian, a colleague of Brian’s and a young woman originally from South Africa I think. I had never camped before, and was wildly unconfident and inexperienced at the art. Looking back, I felt quite out of my depth much of the time (it wasn’t until at least half way through the trip that I worked out that the flat roll up mattress that I had under my sleeping bag could be blown up for example!). These feelings of inadequacy however vied with total wonderment at the world around me.

On the first day, driving up through the settled areas and then into wilder parts, we kept stopping to look at this and that – a tree, a view. One of these stops was for an eagle’s nest. There was much discussion and looking through binoculars to see what we could from the ground. The parent birds were not there, and so they (definitely not me, I was shitting myself) decided to climb up to have a look. In the end of course I ended up having a go too, with lots of support and direction from the others (‘put your left foot up a bit more’, ‘there’s a fork just up a bit’ etc). When I got there, well it was amazing – this baby eagle looking cheerfully straight at me, surrounded by dead rabbits and a sibling in a smelly nest. Fantastic. I must have had my camera with me, a film camera of course, this being about 1985, and I took the picture below.

As is the way with these things, in recollection the fears are far outweighed by the amazement, beauty and enrichment of the experience, and I am minded to say, in this second week of January, that I hope all of us find a bird this year.



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Fire plugs

It’s been a full on week, so hot again and fires all over the place. I am a long way from anything that is happening (and hopefully it will stay that way), but it must be grim for those closer by, and it is depressing to think about how blithely most of us have been carrying on, while the conditions for these conflagrations have been building and building. It is easy to feel depressed and powerless about it all, but of course there are always good things happening too, the world also full of tenderness and possibility. Here is a quote from Patti Smith: “We are all alive and truth is in the fires engulfing our planet. United we have the power to extinguish those flames with the water of life, love and action.”

Let’s hope that the enormity of what is happening will be a catalyst, a real catalyst, to productive and positive action much more broadly. Who knows what’s around the corner – but we are here and this is now, so in this year of ‘good vision’, let’s go for it! This week’s photos were taken during walks around Auburn. I came upon the fire plug on a path leading out of the town – it must have been there for ages, infrastructure put in when we had the Electricity and Water Supply (E&WS) – a government agency responsible for e&ws. It was a way to be prepared for action, able to help in a crisis, using resources effectively when needed. Perhaps we have to be little fire plugs in our own way – finding creative ways to work together to make the changes we need to make, and prepare for what comes.


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Happy New Year (The world turns)

I went to see the sun set last night, for the last time in 2019, and got up early today (probably won’t happen again for a while!) to see it rise for the first time in 2020… Here are some shots – with wishes for action, change, peace and all good things in the new year… (It’s a slideshow – the first four shots of the sunset, the last four of sunrise…)

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Blurry photos

New year is fast approaching, and with it the end of one decade and the beginning of the next. I am in Auburn again, enjoying dad’s company and a restful time in the country. Thinking about time passing of course, day by day and year by year, and the one photo we have of dad as a little boy comes to mind. We got the original (very tiny) picture from some rellies a few years ago and then had an enlarged copy made to give to dad for one of his birthdays. It’s a great shot, with his mother and elder sister (born 100 years ago in 2020) – and a whole heap of chooks, most fitting for dad. He is about – 4 or so I would guess? – and looks in his stance a lot like one of my nephews when he was about that age. It’s a bit blurry and faded – it was taken in around 1927 perhaps – and it’s fantastic to have an idea of what the dear old darling I spend so much time with was like as a lad. Another of the mysterious aspects of time being that he is the same person now as he was then. Sort of! The picture reminds me of how life itself rolls on and our memories blur too – the outlines are there, but the details are gone, colours faded, but still there is evidence of our lives… And the great thrill of it all continues – the amazement at being here at all, the daily beauties, the ongoing struggles and pains, the unfolding wonders of daily, ordinary life. I hope you have a great new year (and new decade)… all being well there will be more blog posts to come…


Photo of the photo – Joan, mum (Dossie, my nana), and Walter (aka Ric, dad), plus all those chooks. Taken in Saddleworth in around 1927


Dad at the park in Auburn on Christmas Eve this year…

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Notes on December 21

It’s the solstice, that time of year when the days here are long. I’ve just looked it up and here in Adelaide we get over 4 more hours of daylight now than at midwinter. The sun doesn’t set till 8.30 and rises before 6 am. Here are some pics of last night’s sunset – click to enlarge…

It’s also my dear friend Kathy’s birthday – we went out to celebrate at a gorgeous cafe on the Port River yesterday. I am so glad she is in my life. We had a cooler day too, after a week of horrible heat, so that was another cause of celebration.

It’s also the birthday of Diana Athill, for many years an editor at Andre Deutsch and one of my favourite writers, who died earlier this year at age 101 and a bit. She wrote fantastic books in her older age especially, and lived a bold life as a single woman. An excellent example of how to live!

Image result for diana athill cause of death

It’s also, and finally for this post, the date Joe writes to Dan in Paul Kelly’s excellent song How to Make Gravy.

And so life unfolds on this little planet going around the sun in its year by year way…


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Deck the halls

December is a bit weird here – it’s summer, the days are long and hot (this week fearfully, frighteningly so), but Christmas is coming, so there is plenty of ‘snow’ and ‘ice’ about too, as befits a holiday that originated in snowy northern winter climes. This is a celebration that does double duty – for the religiously inclined, there is obvious significance, and for others waiting in those cold climes for the turning of the year, it’s a great marker for the light coming back. It doesn’t quite work for the light departing though as it technically is here (as of today actually), especially when there is actually plenty of summer still to come. The traditional Christmas colours don’t make a lot of sense either – red and green I mean (both of which are present, but not strikingly so). There’s no decking of halls with boughs of holly, a very insignificant plant here in December. What we do have in abundance though is agapanthus – they are blooming everywhere at the moment, a big reminder to me that Christmas is coming – any hall would be well adorned with jars of aggies! Here are some pics, along with my wishes for a happy Christmas week to come, good holidays for those having a break, and peace in the final week or so of the year.


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