During the past month we have had the pleasure of visits from both my Mother and Father (who usually live some 2000 kms away) that have been lovely. They are both happy that Pacha, Yani and I have found a quiet, relaxing place to live with space to garden and to let children run free. I think they were both happy visiting here. My Mother, Babette, who is an artist, was very excited with Pacha's painting enthusiasm.

Together they painted a scene of the sea with rocks on a big canvas for our living room. It is interesting to observe the difference in the way I parent compared to
their ideas on how to bring up children. While they both love their grandchildren very much, sometimes I wonder if they recognise them as individuals (complete with their own characters and unique response) rather than just products of their parents that need to be controlled. Yes, I too believe that we must set limits and have rules (for children's safety more than anything) but to also respect them as fully alive and aware beings on this Earth!

The children have a full life here. Because we are a little far from the sea, we bought a small swimming pool for them to play in. Then I found a second hand
trampoline for jumping on, as well as a sand pit - so the garden is full of fun activities. It is all part of our plan to spend a lot of time outside over the next two months preparing mangoes for drying. I will enjoy watching them play as I immerse myself in the delicious smell and luscious juice of ripe, organic mangoes. I will send some photos of this process as soon as the first mangoes are ready. It will be a good experiment and if it works well, maybe next year we can expand the process and invite some friends to help dry mangoes in the tropical sun!

It is heating up here now - from 23 to 33 degrees celcius every day. Luckily there is still a cool breeze and the insulation and air circulation fan in the roof I put in after moving here helps a lot to keep the temperature down. But we are preparing
ourselves for our first hot north Queensland summer.

A few days ago I did my first experiment with drying mangoes and have already learnt more about the technique. I used very ripe mangoes and the day I chose to dry them turned out to be cloudy. The mangoes took 2 days to fully dry out and had an over-ripe taste to them. Next time I will make sure it is a sunny day and make a reflective sheet to increase the heat on themÅcI am looking forward to continuing

Today Yani has a fever and an itchy rash - I think it is chickenpox. Luckily, since I am still breastfeeding him, he will get the antibodies from my blood (I had chickenpox as a child) and I am sure it will clear up quickly.

Finally I have made contact with the local environment group - Landcare - who are working very hard to reforest cleared public land and raise awareness of local environment issues. It is the beginning of a process I hope will lead to my starting a Green group that can support Green candidates in elections and raise important issues. Politically in Australia we are seeing a frightening movement to control popular dissent with the excuse of combating terrorism. I think we may all be called upon to have courage in expressing our opinions when it comes to peace and social justice issues in the future.

It is so good to keep our links to Japan strong and I am very much looking forward to a Hummingbird tour that Megumi (Slow company) and I are organising for late January or early February next year. It will include visits to alternative lifestyle examples in northern NSW (permaculture, seedsavers, renewable energy etc), deep ecology work and also visiting the magnificent rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef and learning about threats to these incredible eco-systems. It is so satisfying to plan a journey with the intention of empowerment and re-energising, clarifying how we can live our own lives in harmony with the Earth.

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