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.

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Tatty roses

Here it is the middle of winter and there are still roses in gardens… July. Roses. What is this? They are not the gorgeous blooms of spring and summer; they are holding on gamely to bushes that need pruning; they are mostly faded and tattered, even in bud. But still they are beautiful. Those blooms with scent still smell lovely. The colours are delicate and a bit muted perhaps. They are still there regardless of frost and the desire for dormancy.

They make me think of getting older and more worn myself, and seeing other older folk and people who have had lives that are difficult. We too have lost our youthful bloom. We’re a bit worn out, grey haired, figures gone to hell, arthritic, our faces lined, skin softer, eyes maybe see less well or are wiser/wary/worn. But still we are beautiful in our own way, like the roses; we bloom regardless of frosts and drought and cold winter weather; we’re alive alive-o…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big waves, little birds

Last weekend I spent some time at Carrickalinga, a fantastic beach south of Adelaide, on the wild (weather) side of the Fleurieu Peninsula. It’s a long sandy beach, two actually, with rocky outcrops between them and at the far ends. The waves crash onto sand and rocks; the wind blows; there are steep, rounded hills behind.  Signs along the beach tell people to look out for the Hooded Plover, a small bird which nests on the sand along the beach, and which is vulnerable to walkers and dogs and all manner of other things as a result. There are few of them left on the Fleurieu and it was great to see such care being taken, with instructions about what to do, how to help, what to look out for. See below for the pics I took of what I think are these wee birds – scurrying along the beach.

It was fab being in such a wild and beautiful place, with nature big and small everywhere about. On the last morning I climbed a fairly steep hill, with long views in all directions. The sound of wind and waves was a backdrop, and the salty atmosphere. The big sea spread out for miles and miles was both awe-inspiring and kind of comforting, in the same way it can be a relief to know how small we are, and our worries too.

Here are some pictures (click on them to enlarge)…


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ripples over time (more from small towns)


I went to Auburn early last weekend – on Friday arvo instead of my usual Sunday morning. This was so that I could go with dad to the opening of the renovated Auburn Institute that evening.

The Institute was built in 1866 and funded by subscription of townsfolk of the time – ie people contributed a share of the cost. It’s since been used for all manner of purposes. In my time it was the setting for the end of year school concerts. Each class put on a play of some kind, and it was truly a highlight of the year – I remember having to have a rest in bed after getting home from school before the concert. This was because it would be a late night and lots of excitement, and it was the thing people did with kids back then. Of course we didn’t appreciate it at all! We were far too keyed up to rest! I have mentioned one of the school plays here before…

As well as school plays, the Institute was used for dances – there was a period where regular ‘old style’ dances were held there when I was a teenager – waltzes, barn dances and the like. And when I was younger the teenagers of the time had dances there too (not old style!). There were other theatricals too – The ‘Auburn Players’ had yearly shows for nearly 30 years from the early ’70’s – they were ridiculous funny melodramas usually, with all kinds of unlikely folk treading the boards, and used as fundraisers for many local groups and organisations. I used to be a ‘waitress’ for some years (there was a dinner along with the play). The hall was also used for many a wedding reception (my two sisters’ to name but two), and it was the polling booth to vote the first time I cast a ballot. There was a library in one corner of the building for some time – I spent lots of time there. There was a table tennis club that met there for a while I think, and lots of deb balls (thankfully they had dried up by the time I got to the age!).

The place was managed by a local committee for years and years. Dad was on the committee for ages throughout my childhood – either secretary or treasurer (he did either of these roles in many local organisations for years). In the 1960’s sometime, ownership of the hall was passed to the local council, which continued to own it till just recently when they handed it back to the town again. This was linked to the renovations in some way, and there is renewed interest in getting it used more.

Dad was one of the people who were asked to participate in the opening ceremony – cutting the ribbon. I think he got the guernsey because he is the oldest person in town now, and perhaps because of his associations with the Institute committee in previous times. Three older folk and two young ones were part of the official ceremonies on the night. The young ones were relatives of people who had made a contribution in previous generations. It was terrific to have that connection between the old and young.

It was a really lovely night – people got frocked up, and the schoolkids were there in their red and black (for Auburn) handing around the food while the adults mingled and talked.

I felt little ripples of connection through time – all the people who have contributed to town life for 150+ years, and those who are still making things happen, whether they have lived in the district for years or just a short while. It’s easy to think that we don’t make much difference to things as we blunder and wander through life, but times like last week remind me that our little contributions add up and create all sorts of practical and not so practical outcomes – buildings and activities for sure, but also feelings – of connection and hopefulness, pride and happiness.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sewing a service (lessons from small towns)

I love small towns – it was a very happy thing to be brought up in one, and visiting Mannum last week I was reminded again of their unassuming can-do attitudes and the many things that can be learnt from them. Of course there are also bad things about little towns (just as there are in big towns and ‘burbs and everywhere else), but the good things shine through to me, and I was reminded of some of these when I visited the Mannum Hospital Auxiliary Shop over the weekend.

It is open from Friday – Monday, staffed by volunteers from the group, and sells all manner of home made items – from jams and pickles through to hand knitted babywear, patchwork and hand embroidered items, baby bootees in football team colours, pot plants,  and quirky bits and pieces (including a small block of wood with a little rhyme stuck to it telling the owner to place it in the middle of the floor, walk around it, then sit down and watch tv, secure in the knowledge that they have ‘walked round the block’ and can thus take the weight off for the rest of the night!), all at very reasonable prices and quite lovely. Most things are made by women – and it’s obvious that women are central to the whole enterprise. We bought up big over a few visits over the few days we were there.

On the Monday I found out that the Auxiliary has been going since 1984 and has raised just a touch under $500,000 (!!!!!!!!) since then, to purchase all kinds of equipment and support the local hospital big time. They recently purchased a couple of trolleys to keep meals warm as they get delivered to patients. I spoke with Liz, who was on duty when I went in and she said that she has been with the group since coming back to SA from Qld a couple of years ago. It was a good way to get to know people and get involved with the community as a newcomer.

I love the long term commitment by people that has had this amazing impact over that time. I love the creativity and skill of the makers – sewers, stitchers, knitters, tatters, crocheters, card makers, patchworkers, cooks, gardeners, wood-burners and on it goes. I love the unassuming nature of it – no-one is named, the workers are not front and centre, but the things they make and what they make it for. I love that it is enterprises like this that mean that small towns actually have a hospital. It is collaborative, fun, hard work, fruitful, and over time, has had a big impact. The shop is lovely and the team should be very proud of what they have achieved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments


I am writing this in Mannum, beside the river, after spending a weekend here. It has been beautiful – restful, restoring, fun and just a real change. Kaye and Megan have been here for various parts of the weekend, and I am here by myself tonight, the last night. We also caught up with my dear old friend Colleen, who lives here. It has been wonderful to spend time with the pals, and in this lovely spot. I don’t get away often, and the river is amazing. There are heaps of birds – lots whose names I don’t know, but we have seen many purple swamp hens, some Eurasian coots, seagulls, a goose, some black ducks, some female wrens (more muted colouring than their bright blue male counterparts), galahs and magpies of course, and there’s more… We climbed steep hillsides (cliffs really), and have meandered down and up the street, calling in on second hand stores, cafes, the local Foodland, and walking through the river-side parks. Megan and I went over the river on the ferry today, and took a drive along the other side – the river is just lovely. I couldn’t help thinking about how wonderful it must have been when the Aboriginal people were the only inhabitants – it must have been really a slice of heaven. There are lots of reminders of Aboriginal presence here, in the past and now.

It has been a terrific time – I thoroughly recommend a weekend away, somewhere different, and a chance to recharge the batteries and deepen precious friendships. Here are some snaps (click to enlarge and excuse the poor lighting etc – you’ll get the drift!)…


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Botanical birthday

I have been a bit surprised at how my underlying preoccupations (that I don’t even notice really) seem to surface in this blog. I think I do posts about plants and flowers – roses, jacarandas, wisteria, strelitzias, bottlebrushes, autumn, spring, sunflowers etc, because I can’t think of anything else, but it happens so often that I must assume that I have an interest (although I have no talent at all as a gardener). Same with birds (though that should be a bit obvious with parrot feather as my ‘name’). I know we have had a bit of a run lately with nature, and here it is again this week, my birthday week, with an excursion to the botanic gardens today. It is such a beautiful place. I don’t go all that often – I don’t know why not, it’s sooo lovely. All the plants look so lush, and the design of the place is so interesting and beautiful, it is restoring, soothing, invigorating, restful, uplifting etc etc in a big way. It was terrific to catch up with some dear friends too, to walk and talk and eat cake. Wonderful.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Fall

And just so the leaves and trees don’t feel left out as I write about autumn, here are a few pictures of leaves, particularly the fall of them, and trees in all their loveliness…



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment