How to be a super awesome lobby group, yay!

In the spirit of Mungo MacCallum, but with none of his style, here’s some tips for the aspiring Lobby Group or Minor Political Party Director on how to be super awesome. 

1. Make it clear to your supporters and anyone else who’ll listen that when governments or whichever group you’re pressuring/threatening responds to your wishes, they are making a sensible, measured decision in the interests of the people. BUT, whenever they respond to your opposition, make sure people know the government is spineless and are responding in a knee-jerk fashion to powerful but shadowy figures who don’t represent the average punter. The evil bastards! 

2. Whenever you use an expert opinion, make sure no one figures out too quickly that though they may be an expert, they’re not actually speaking on their field of expertise. A classic eg is Richard Dawkins, the biologist, discussing philosophy, theology and literature. I’m sure you can think of more examples. 

3. Make sure your press releases are eminently copy-able. After all, journalists are busy, hungry creatures, and sub editors just need to fill in the space between ads. They’ll suck up any content you feed them, especially if you make it seem like you’ve done the fact checking already. That way they can just whack it in. 

4. Take a leaf from the instruction book of great leaders and appeal to whichever emotional lever you can find. John Howard appealed to our occasionally latent patriotism with his characterisation of refugees as some sort of invasion, Hitler made it clear the Jews were responsible for every bad thing which ever happened in Germany, you can do likewise. Make it seem like children are threatened, or that those shadowy figures are out to steal everything good about television, or some other equally beloved treasure. The mouth frothers will join you immediately. 

Of course, this is just the beginning, stoop lower and further greatness awaits you. 

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Mother’s Day

This is an old post of mine from my other long-standing blog heartbeatpoecy 

I’ve thought about importing that blog to here as well and closing it, but I’ve decided to let it stand as an artifact of bad poetry. 

This was my Mother’s Day post there from 2012.

Mother’s Day

Every mothers mothers mother’s made mistakes.

Frowns, beatings, disappointments, frozen heartaches.
Emotional shutdowns, fire words,
warring jealousies, cold grudges.

Wounds nursed not just for lifetimes,
but generations,
blood passed, mother to daughter,
bruises repeated, one to another.

77 times, and 77 times more.
Forgive, forgive, forgive,
clasp hand to breast.
Swallow the poison again and again,
vomit it up,
get rid of the gall.
Spew out the bile on Jesus’
bare, anointed feet.
Wash off with tears,
and then,
repeat. 

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What do you think about divorce? 

Best talk on divorce I’ve heard yet. And yes, of course that means I agree with it ;-P

However, I think this perspective makes the best coherent sense of the disparate passages and resounds with the character of a God who is pulling best out of a dreadful situation.

I especially agree with Mike’s opening remarks regarding the shame we should feel in Christian culture that we are not seen as a place of refuge for the divorced, and I frequently experience this just in our inability to talk about it!

So, have a listen, agree, disagree, but I hope it’s a stimulating thought on a topic the deeply affects our whole society.

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Why celebrate Mother’s Day at church?

Some of us have pretty terrible mothers. Some of us desperately wish we were mother’s but aren’t. Some of us wish every day that we could give our mum a call, but it’s been a long time since her funeral and she’s not going to answer the phone.

So isn’t Mother’s Day just too hard? Surely there are more people sad than happy and it’s all tokenism and cliched versions of femininity so can’t we just ignore it?

Even though I’m a childless, single woman, 49 days from her 30th birthday, I love Mother’s Day, and I think not only is it important not to be ambivalent about Mother’s Day but to embrace it and do it well in church.

Here are 3 reasons why I love it, and I have 3 suggestions about how to do it well.

Why do I love Mother’s Day?

1. I have a mother. So do you. Even if she’s no longer with you, or you don’t speak to one another, you have a mother.

Let’s just ponder that for a moment… Even if, like in the film Perfume, all your mother did for you was pop you out and cut the cord, she experienced 9 months of irreversible biological change to make you. In a perfect combination of vulnerability and strength, she provided everything you needed to become a you. The bacteria in your gut, the blood in your veins, your receding hairline, she gave all that to you.

And this is God’s plan. He designed the process this way, and there is so much wisdom in it. In the act of motherhood across the species, in the variations and the similarities, there is this incredible process of gestation and care which forces us to acknowledge that we are not monoliths.

It doesn’t matter how big, important and powerful you are, or small, vulnerable and marginalised, we all came from someone else… We’re all dependent, immortal not infinite, created, knit, and at the ‘expense’ of an other. No man is an island, cos all man has a mummy.

So I love Mother’s Day because it’s universal, we’ve all got a mother, this is an occasion on which everyone in our society can walk through the doors at church and be involved in what we’re celebrating. Hooray!

2. Women do bloody everything!!

Seriously, let’s face it, without the vast amount of unpaid work women, especially mothers, contribute to our economy NOW, let alone in the past, we’d all be in a pretty shabby state.

But the Protestant church, like the capitalist economy, isn’t the greatest at highlighting and acknowledging the contribution of women, so to have one day on which we specifically celebrate women, and the gift of God they are to us all, is a pretty good idea.

Although here’s the rub, when we (the church) do celebrate women, we celebrate her as ‘Mother’ and mother only. Queen of the home, and please stay there. A soft pastel portrait, which even the ‘homemakers’ I know don’t actually fit. So, it’s a little annoying that if we do spend a day as the church celebrating women, we only celebrate the role of motherhood.

For me, this contradiction can be dealt with in how to celebrate well, and thus becomes secondary to the opportunity to acknowledge the vital contribution of womanhood to the whole of human life. Let’s not let our reluctance to repeat the cliches silence the celebration entirely.

3. Motherhood tells us so much about the love of God.

Care, love, patience, sacrifice, choice, perseverance, self-control, if you want to know what God is like, think about what a good mother does. Interestingly enough, ‘comfort’ is a strong theme in the Biblical use of the motif of motherhood and how well does that correlate to a huge part of what we see mother’s to be; a bosom in the storm.

Isaiah 66:13, echoed in Matthew 23:37, and Isaiah 49:15 all images representing the care and compassion of a mother of her child represent God’s attitude toward His people.

It doesn’t mean that fathers aren’t compassionate and caring too! But let’s not allow the needed re-examination of gender roles and demands to strangle our perception of the deep universality of the ‘mother’.

I love Mother’s Day because it gives me an opportunity to reflect on all the ways God loves me and others and fights for us, longs for us, watches over us.

But in the light of the problems and difficulties, how can we celebrate well, not marginalising pain or maximising cliche.

Well, as promised, I have three suggestions.

1. Celebrate all the women in your church.

Like I said, I have no biological children (and with every passing day it becomes less likely), but God has promised me fruitfulness though I am barren. Isaiah 54 for example picks up this strong Biblical theme, where God calls life from nothingness. Eunuchs, barren women, widows and orphans all have reasons to rejoice because of the Good News. For starters, we are not left alone, we are drawn into the family of God. Orphans have a Father, single mothers have uncles, brothers and sons, the childless are given care of many children. I know this is not the same as giving birth myself… It’s better.

Even if I never squeeze a a screaming, tomato coloured mini-me out of my nether regions, as a woman of God, I am blessed with motherhood. (I’m also called to be a priest, a son and an ambassador among other things, but we’re talking about Mother’s Day at the moment). So, celebrate all the women in your church, remind them (and everyone else) that we have a calling higher than biological or even adoptive motherhood, and pray that we will all be equipped for such a monumental task.

I wouldn’t dictate HOW you’re gonna do this. At our church, all the kids during the ‘kids spot’ hand out flowers to all the women. It’s very sweet, we have a giggle, and I enjoy the (for me) rare pleasure of being given flowers (although, in the light of point two above, I’ll actually be the one going to the flower markets at 5:30/6am on the Saturday morning and then recruiting a few women from church to help me make posies. Sure, some of the guys could do it, but we women do secretly run the church and it’s just much more efficient if we get it done).

And it’s not tooooooo gooey and cliched, y’know? If however we were all given recipe books, or ‘fancy’ dishwashing gloves or something, yes, I’d probably start punching people. But flowers just say ‘thank you’ not, ‘make me something’.

2. Mourn with those who mourn.

Anyone with a modicum of pastoral sensitivity can see the ways in which remembering mothers could touch some sore spots, so acknowledge them. Personally I would suggest the prayers as the best time and way to do this, pray for those who’ve lost their mums, who want to be mums, whose mums were/are abusive. Bring our brokenness to God and ask that He’ll help us be an encouragement and comfort to each other.

Sin has effected every good thing God has given us, so even if we had Cake Day there’d be moments to mourn. It sucks. But it’s the reason we need Him. We shouldn’t let sadness kill happiness.

3. Invite.

Invite the women in your church to be supported in the task of motherhood, spiritual or otherwise.

For example, how are you helping your women learn to understand and teach God’s word? Even the most conservative complementarian must acknowledge that the Bible clearly commands women to teach women and children, so, help them do that well!

This can be so straightforward. For example, make sure it’s possible for your women to hear God’s word taught, in church, in group Bible study, through doing a course in theology or preaching course. Most churches already have this in place, but invite women to see this as a way to respond to the calling of motherhood.

How are you supporting women in the hard parts of mothering? You have meal rosters for those with newborns, fantastic! What about when there’s sickness or other stress? Or for the ‘childless’ mothers at your church? My church warmly embraced me during a period of poor mental health last year, brought me food and entertainment and housework help. I am so grateful, and their help enabled me to keep loving the people I’m responsible for.

Invite your church, as a whole, to pay attention to what we take for granted, all the ups and downs and ins and outs of the way our women take care of, lead, inspire and drag us through the dreadful bits. Invite them all to support and honour this, and thank God for it.

Yes, women are so much more than baby factories, so do Mother’s Day well! Fight the stereotypes, kill the cliches and comfort the broken hearted. Reflect on the love of God together and say thank you.

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Christmas Baggage

I gave a Christmas talk for the first time in a long while yesterday. I gave it twice!

If oral communication was the same as written communication, and if i’d had more than four minutes, the talk would’ve been something like this…

“Some of us are really looking forward to spending time with family at Christmas. And some of us are a bit stressed and worried about it. Some of us are both! Family can be complicated, y’know? There can be issues, old fights that’ve hung around, There was that time at that wedding when this aunt said something to that aunt that nobody’s ever forgiven and everyone took sides, except actually, barely anyone can now remember what was said, only that they don’t see that side of the family much any more.

And for some us the reasons are deeper, darker, and unfortunately, in many many cases, hidden. The problems seem intractable, unfixable, you never want to see those family members ever again.

Christmas can be hard.

But most of us still wish it could be a time for our family to be together, content and at peace, sharing a meal and getting along.

Which is exactly what God wants Christmas to be like as well.

Imagine for a moment there is a God. That He’s not just some weird, abstract idea, in the sky, of an old man, with a beard, but that He’s a Dad. A heavenly (heaven-based) Father. This is what Christians believe about God, that as He made us all, we are all His children.

But there’s baggage there. For most of us, the relationship with God isn’t that good. For some of us, we just stopped talking to Him a while ago. Our maybe our parent’s generation did, and so, we’re not quite sure why we don’t speak to that part of our family any more, but we know it’s just the way things are.

For some us, we feel wronged. He’s let us down in some way, so we don’t want to have to plaster on a fake smile and hang out, and send Him a Christmas card and pretend like things are great with Dad.

Some of us know that at a previous family gathering, something went wrong… Dad wanted to do things one way, everyone else decided to do it another, things got pretty heated, and now, well… You haven’t been together as a family for years.

Just as with some of our earthly family problems, this distance, this brokenness can seem irreconcilable. And frankly, some of us think we’re better off having cut Dad out of the picture. It was too painful and too ridiculous to keep talking to Him, we’re better off alone.

Some of us are uneasy about that though… We’ve heard about toxic people, and toxic relationships, but so many people speak of how loving God is, and His Son doesn’t seem like that bad of a guy. As the second or third generation, unsure of what supposedly went wrong, we look across the gap at our cousins and think, “um, why aren’t we talking to them? They seem fine…!”

And that’s where Jesus comes in. In His ‘swaddling cloths’ (old school nappy) and cuteness.

Just as it can seem impossible to bring aunt Millicent and aunt Margaret together and get them talking again, it can seem impossible for this distance between our Heavenly Dad and His family to be reconciled. Millicent and Margaret have been silent toward each other for so long, it’s clear something big needs to be done.

What could it be?

Will one side finally admit they were wrong…?

Well, if you knew the aunts, you’d know that’s never gonna happen! Admit fault? Nooooooo no no…

But you know things will never quite be right if they don’t deal with what went wrong…

Even if no one is willing to admit fault, there still needs to be a way for them to say, “I’m sorry, I still love you.”

Some sort of grand gesture?

That’s exactly what Dad-God was doing in sending His Son. We read in the Bible, in the book of John, chapter three, verse 16, “God loved the world, so he gave His one-of-a-kind Son, so that whoever trusts in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” God sent His own Son, a grand gesture, to show that He is willing to put the differences aside. He wants us to be together as a family this Christmas, so He made the first move.

The horrible secret is, the fault doesn’t lie with Him. We’re the ones who did wrong, we’re the ones who pushed Him away.

But He loves us. Unlike Millicent and Margaret, He’s more than happy to sacrifice His dignity, indeed, to sacrifice Himself, so that we can be together again.

He knows there’s baggage. As does His Son. If you asked Jesus how He felt about hanging out with the family, He’d probably say, “well look, there was that one time, when they crucified me, and, y’know, that hurt, but I love them. They drive me crazy, but I love them. They’re family! They can do so much damage, but so much good as well. There’s nothing like that love that says, yes, we will be together, forever. Blood for blood. I am for you. It’s family. It’s the most important thing. We’ve added people in along the way, the family expands in wild and crazy directions. Some have come in via marriage, all are adopted, we just love and love and love. I’m looking forward to being with the family this Christmas. I want us all to be together. To move past the things that broke us apart, and strengthen our relationships instead. I want us to love each other more by Boxing Day than we did before.”

God isn’t in the business of pretending there’s nothing wrong. He’s not the family member that simply pretends anyone He doesn’t like doesn’t exist. Instead, He set about fixing what was wrong, making the grand gesture, sending the big gift.

He’s made the first move.

How will you respond?”

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living alone

Like most people, I had never lived alone. I grew up in a family of five, I’d moved to a college, then share-houses. The lowest number of people I’d lived with was one other person, but now, here I was, standing in front of a garage, with the keys to my own (rental) place. 1 ‘bedroom’, 1 all-of-the-other-rooms, 1 bathroom and, strangely enough, a foyer. It was pink-ish on the outside, dirty cream on the in and was now full of a whole lotta stuff I’d accumulated over ten years living out of home.

And I’d be living there alone.

Just me.

Under the weirdly sloping ceiling, at the back of the block, with something running around in the roof and a few spiders in the corners.

And it was great!

I’d been pretty terrified of living alone – even though I’m not an extrovert and relish time by myself (like, by relish I mean, can-only-survive-when-I-have), I was still worried that my frequent melancholic impulses to not leave the house at all would exacerbate the loneliness and isolation my messed up brain has convinced me are my natural state. Yes, it’s the Bridget-Jones-die-alone-eaten-by-Alsatians bit. And the idea of becoming violently ill where no one will notice is a little disquieting.

And, for the record, I did black out once on my bathroom floor, and woke up sweating and gasping for air with no idea how long I’d been out of it. I was late for work that day! But of course, my answer to “how’re you?” was still, “fine” (I’m a liar like the rest of you). But, I survived, and no dogs of Alpine descent broke into the house to consume me.

In the end, fear of living alone was worse than the act itself. Yes it meant I had to put myself out there more and ask people to come over/meet up/allow me into their homes, but mostly people are quite nice, and take me up on that offer. So, even though I felt like a total loser occasionally because my phone was full of texts from me to other people saying, “hey, you free to catch up/hang out” and them being like, “hey, sorry I hadn’t replied”, I felt like I had plenty of company.

And the reality of life means I SAY EXACTLY THE SAME THING TO PEOPLE ALL THE TIME! (I’m a demon for read-the-text-but-don’t-reply-that-second-cos-I-need-to-ponder-then-get-distracted). Cos life is very full, and I have a lot of relationships to sustain and a pretty low level of energy for that a lot of the time, because even though I desperately love the many friends God has put in my path and the total or semi-strangers also needing help/love/a chat, there are a lot of you and only one of me, and I’m fairly crap at sustaining depth of relationship with more than four other people at once.

So, for me, living alone was great. I need rest to be able to keep giving, and rest doesn’t happen unless I’m able to relax, in my own space, and just stare at the wall for a while if I need to. I had to seek company when I wanted/needed it, and it’s occasionally difficult or scary to find yourself sick and alone, but I had a comfortable retreat which fit my shape, even though I needed to get out and stretch that shape occasionally because the place was SMALL!!

Yes the shack got messy and yes, the day I had ‘fake family’ around for Christmas lunch, we barely fit, and the oven broke and we had to de-camp to my friend’s house and the bread had over-proofed by that point into a weird oozy mess, and yes I could open the fridge while seated at the dining table and yes I had to climb a rickety ladder to get into a bed that left me with approximately 1 foot of headroom, but it was blissful! And even I, in the midst of unemployment, semi-employment, study and other madness could afford at least that small piece of paradise for which I am extremely thankful.

So, in a few weeks, when I move into a flat on my own again after a summer living with my mum, I am really going to enjoy it! It’ll be lovely to be able to host people there, dance in the lounge room, cry where no one can see me and eat Chocolate Bavarian for dinner just occasionally because again, no one can see me. I’m looking forward to the bliss of my own space, which, even in the most comfortable of share house relationships, never quite feels totally relaxed. When you’re with your family or by yourself however, you can really let your hair down, be your less gracious self and shout at your mother to get out of the way of the television because Monty Don is on, only to have her wiggle her butt at you provocatively and make herself more of a nuisance.

Living alone doesn’t have to be lonely, but it can mean having a place to re-charge your batteries (both literal and metaphorical, huh, iPhones these days!), a place to hang those crab-curtains you really like and not argue (passively or otherwise) about the TV schedule for the Friday night.

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recalling

I read back through some of my old stuff today… Often a bad idea!

But re-read this poem and thought, hey, wow, actually good…

So feel free to ponder Covenant with me (especially all you Presbyterians 😉

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flatmates

So, depression is still a thing, but I’m finally feeling the effects of a new drug regime (yay!), and I’m sure the effects of a new friend too… But either ways, here I am, ready to blog for you about the curse of finding flatmates once everyone you know is married 😉 

 

Of course, not EVERYONE you know is married, but as with so many 21st Century dilemmas, rarely has the concept of ‘household’ had to stretch to include ‘people who are total strangers to you with whom you may suddenly share a bathroom’. 

 

A household is usually a family group, including multi-generational, and usually functions as one unit. 

 

House sharing as a single is not like this at all. 

 

You can strive toward it, living with people you love, committed to one another as brethren in Christ, but at some point, it’s gonna fall short of a ‘family’ ideal when you’re not actually committed to remaining together forever. 

 

So how do you live with the gap?

 

Well I myself have been super blessed with housemates. I’ve mostly shared with friends when I’ve shared, and although it can be crazy and frustrating, just like true family, it’s also been a wonderful blessing, bonds forged that will never be broken. When someone shares your bathroom, the relationship is intimate whether you live in ignorance of that or not. 

 

And even the housemate who I’ve known the least when she moved in (and it was just her and I), I think we got on well, and I certainly appreciated her incredible, wonderful personality and generosity to me… 

 

So in general, I’ve hit the jackpot. 

 

I’ve also had a friend take me in for free for no good reason when I needed a break from life, and those were some of the sweetest months of my life. And then a wonderful, incredible couple I know sheltered me further, and I still have hidden aspirations of creating a commune with them and some other folks, to live and serve together. Wouldn’t it be nice?

 

But not everyone follows my model. There’s the “I found this house on gumtree” approach, which always seems a little scary to me, but I think has at least a 50/50 chance of working out… 

 

There’s the, “we share this space, we do not talk” approach, but surely that is in fact more depressing than choosing to live alone?!

 

The ultimate challenge is, that, singles, like all normal people, crave relational stability and commitment. But when every housemate you’ve ever had has moved away for work/gotten married/gone BS crazy, you can begin to wonder if in fact you are alone in the world, and perhaps it would be better to set out on your own. 

 

And then of course, the financial vulnerability of single-hood steps in. There’s a reason that before I got this job I lived in the renovated half of a garage. It’s what I could afford and yet still be able to vaguely live near the people that I love (who for the purposes of this example, I will term “oxygen”). 

 

I would never, never have thought myself capable of this. 

 

Several years ago, when living in a lovely share house and yet under extreme relational and mental pressure (work and family), I thought, “I’ve got to get out”. 

 

I went to look at a few semi-abandoned buildings and underground carparks that were within my price range, and could immediately picture exactly how I would be killing myself in each one in a few months time. (Sorry… TMI? But it was true…) 

 

So I ran. I ran back to the home I was in with friends and tried to sort my self out. 

 

And yet, a few years later, I was peacefully contemplating the same step (but still looked at some places that were just too scary to contemplate trying to “live” in). 

 

I still needed oxygen. 

 

But I also needed space. 

 

I couldn’t cope with a carousel of change any more. When I got home at night, I wanted to know who would be there (me), and what we were doing (eating cheezels) and for it to be absolutely and completely ok if I decided to go out and follow the program on some generous friend’s couch instead of my own (God bless them). 

 

This mid-point is what made life bearable for me. I had the stability of friends/church/family, but also stability in my ‘household’. 

 

Sure the conversations got a little boring and repetitive, but it was always ok to do a nudey run. 

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depressed, empty and despondent am I…

“Come”

to the cat, 

“let’s be forlorn together.”

 

So they sat and yowled

at the five o’clock news

while the sun slipped away in the west. 

 

 

For those of you not already sick of me banging on about depression (these would be the readers who know me IRL of course… I haven’t actually spoken about it heaps on this blog yet), I just want to say this… 

 

You know those times when you suddenly feel like everything in the world is terrible, and you are alone, but then you don’t even have the energy to feel that? (This may be an infrequent experience for you, purely hormonal, or only occasionally circumstantial.)

 

You know those times when the party has finished and you’ve closed the door on your nearest and dearest and suddenly find yourself in an empty house, alone: the particular feeling that arises then?

 

You know those times when you’ve come back from a great weekend away, or holiday, or whatever, and suddenly feel an incredible and devastating sense of loss for a thing that wasn’t even there anyway?

 

These are those times for me. All rolled into one. 

 

At the moment, a little adrenaline is getting me through each day, and then it fades, by story time, and I haven’t done the things I wanted to do yet, and I’m tired, too tired to cry.

 

So I’m sorry I haven’t written a proper blog post about when friends betray you, as promised on air on Wednesday. I haven’t kept up with the radio spots, and the 2.3 people who read this blog because they’ve heard me there will now be slightly confused as to whether they’ve come to the right place at all. You have, friends, but you may have to wait til tomorrow. 

 

And I’m sorry to all the people I cannot do for at the moment, I love and appreciate you, and at the bottom of my bottom, I do remember and wish I could be more. 

 

And finally I’m sorry to the vermillion and blue, soft grey and dappled green of this beautiful sky, the peace of this slow traffic route, the starkness of the poplar branches. I’m sorry I can’t enjoy you as I should…

 

Peace and love, 

 

🙂 Jo

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a ramble through the woods

I have to start this post with the hilarious news that a search landing on my page this week read “how can a 57 year old celibate woman get her sexy back”. Love it! Apparently I HAVE found my key demographic!

But really I want to talk about Gardeners.

Do you have a favourite Gardener?

Of course I do, but do you? You should. Your choice probably says a lot about you.

My choice reveals nothing surprising about me. Simply that I am as bi-focal as ever because I have two favourite Gardeners, and I can’t pick between them! It’s too haaaaaaaard!

Now, what’s the pool of talent to pick from?

Well you’ve got your Jamie Duries for starters, basically bland landscaping with the odd Buddha statue, mostly aimed at maximising the investment potential on your “outdoor room”. Not really a gardener, just a guy who decorates with plants.

Then you’ve got your Charlie Albones. I don’t want to insult him by saying he’s the Bondi Vet equivalent of Australian Gardening, but it says a lot that if you start typing his name into google it immediately suggests “Charlie Albone wife”.

Now Charlie is fabulous. He’s buff, tattooed, seems like a good guy and actually knows stuff about plants. Y’know, those things IN the garden. He’s high up the list purely for combining landscaping skills with botanical know how and a good work ethic. Yum!

But, my favourites, the two I simply can’t choose between are Costa Georgiadis and Monty Don.

For those of you who don’t know them, here’s the run-down.

Costa first popped up on SBS leading us through Costas Garden Odyssey, and it was great fun. He has described himself as a talking hedge, and his passion for permaculture, healthy communities, nature care and life itself burns bright in his big brown eyes.

You can check out this quick vid of him here explaining his philosophical approach, “grow life, not death”, and more of his antics as the host of Gardening Australia (where quite a few other Gardeners make it through to my top ten, including Angus, Sophie and Tino).

There are many things I love about Costa, and some which we hold in common. Food is a big part of what drives him, not just as a good Greek boy, but as a human who wants to see us and our planet thrive. I love food too, it’s social and physical benefits are magical, and even though for a long time, gardening was just one more thing to be scared of, one more thing to find strange and new, I am enthralled by the idea of bringing forth and tending nourishing life. Gardening for food.

My Grandma on my mum’s side, and my Pop on my dad’s are the two gardeners in my heritage.

Pop grows flowers, but he’s also always had crops of tomatoes going, and a few other veg too. His garden, as he does, resembles the 50’s and he harvests seed and carefully tends without the aid of many chemicals.

Grandma is all about fruit and veg (Costa would approve heartily), and everywhere she’s moved, she’s grown food. Even when she was up at a copper mine in Central Queensland, she grew beans in steel drums full of soil, and has watered many many plants by hand in all the drought restrictions she’s lived through.

She has only recently admitted she’s at a point of frailty too developed to keep growing her own corn, and I’m sure it’s been a loss for her…

When Grandma serves you peaches and ice cream, the peaches are her own. And when you spread the apricot jam, full of stones, onto your toast in the morning, she’s not only made the jam herself, but grown the fruit too.

Nothing in the world will ever taste the same as Grandma’s homemade jam.

It’s not that these talents skipped a generation in my family, it’s just that the passion to spend time growing and sowing and tending has subsided. And I totally understand; gardening takes space and time, and can be squeezed out when there are many other things to do and many supermarkets within a five k radius.

But Costas siren call sets me going. I am tantalised by the idea of growing life, not death, in the footsteps of my creator, in the pattern of the gospel, in thankfulness for the earth we stand on. The very idea of growing apricots and making jam to share with family and friends comforts me in a way which tells me the desire runs deep, to the soul.

So that’s why Costa is one of my favourites. He’s Grandma and Pop, wrapped up in a beardy bundle of enthusiasm and thoughtfulness, a rugby refereeing, family loving, chicken raising explosion of energy. He’s willing to take everyone gently by the hand and introduce them at the right pace to the arcane, wyrd and wonderful arts of gardening, and I love watching him do it.

Costa’s competitor for top spot is British born, and hard to resist. The Gardening equivalent of Kevin McCloud, he’s another thinking woman’s crumpet, Monty Don.

But as with Costa, I don’t just love him for his good looks.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most in Monty is his inquiring, historical bent. You could have seen him in a Around the World in 80 Gardens or Monty Don’s French Gardens for example, chatting about the development of gardening for ladies in the 19th century, or the landscaping passions on the Continent in the 1700s.

Monty talks most about how gardens make one feel, describing the emotional impact of gardens and gardening.

He suffers from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and like me, was on the Prozac train (which he has now given up in favour of a lightbox). However, he has also said that Earth heals him better than any medicine.

This is the other allure of gardening for me. The fruits of labour, the sensory feast of a garden, the links to our history and togetherness. In sum, the restorative nature of, well, nature…

How fantastical to sit in a garden in Australia in the 21st century next to a monkey-puzzle tree, from South America, which became popular as an ornament in Victorian gardens across Britain. How such a thing came to be here is fascinating, and the garden becomes the lens for economic, social and political history.

Monty will stand in a garden, in faded corduroy, and speak of the mood of the colours and textures, the wisdom in the light and shade, the beauty of the produce, the history of the lay out and plant selection and which famous artworks were inspired by it. Gardening as a feast for the mind as well as body and soul. Delicious!

And so, I can’t decide. I’m stuck with these two similar but different approaches to gardening, holding equal appeal. The aesthetic pleasure rivals the practical service and I want them both! Choosing a fave is too difficult.

So what about you?! Go ahead, choose a gardener! Pick which style you like most!

Do you just want a bench in the sun to sit on? Go for it!

Would you prefer a massive vegie patch, or a classic French potager?

Have you considered the soil you stand on as a gift to be tended and stewarded?

Or, are you like me, soil-less, but hopeful. At least improving the air quality in your flat with a couple of pot-plants, wishing one day for an acre or two? Growing grass for your cat on the window-sill, wishing he could frolic in a bed all his own, full of cat mint, cat nip, cat grass and chook poo?

How does your garden grow?

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