9 September 2009

In praise of the domestic

I've just about given up on TV. I enjoy watching the cricket during summer, I'm still faithful to Time Team and there is the occasional fine program that gives me hope but overall I think TV programmers are asleep at the wheel. However, I did watch a good program on SBS last week called Family Feasts which featured a large Italian family who gathered for the annual cooking and bottling of tomato sauce. I enjoy seeing these traditions being passed on and as I record most of the TV I watch, so I never have to see any advertising, the side benefit is that I can replay certain parts and study what they do.

Another program recorded last week was Compass. I think I've passed on links to Compass before when they featured the Amish. Compass is a program about ethics, belief, faith and values and how various people live true to what they believe. At the moment there is a series of three programs called The Good Life where three prominent Australians talk about their beliefs and why they live as they do. The first was about Ian Gawler, a man who is a long term cancer survivor, next week's is about philosopher Peter Singer, and last week's featured Gay Bilson, well know for cooking at a couple of famous Sydney restaurants. I expected interest from the Gay episode, I got much more than I expected.

Gay lives alone in South Australia now. She celebrates her solitude, takes pleasure in cooking and baking, she grows food in her garden, and reads. There are several delightful parts of the program where she reads from her wonderful book, Plenty. I have to tell you I love this program. I've watched it three times so far - I become a tad obsessed with certain odd things at times - I asked Hanno to watch it with me and he said "... she is just like you.".

We do have a lot in common, I adored seeing her kneading bread in her wonderful kitchen and yes, I have slowed the vision down so I could study every nook and cranny therein. I love to be alone and Gay brings that aspect of her life into almost everything she talks about, but if my truth is told, I am too frightened to imagine myself being alone now because of the dire circumstance that would bring that solitude to me. Nevertheless, on an intellectual level, if not a physical one, I do understand that need for solitude.

I love what she says about generosity, her daily domestic tasks and how home cooking and restaurant food differ. But there are so many parts of this wonderful program for me to recommend to you, let me stand back and just give you the gift of it. For Australian readers it will be replayed on ABC 2 this Friday at 6pm. For my friends further afield, there is a link to the program here. It runs for 30 minutes so get yourself a cuppa, sit back and enjoy this treasure.

ADDITION: Pebbledash has alerted me to the fact that this cannot be viewed by anyone outslde Australia. Thanks Diana. Sorry everyone. Maybe you could satisfy your curiosity by reading Gay's award winning book - Plenty.

ANOTHER ADDITION: International viewers need to "download" to view this. :- )



  1. Our Tv here in the UK is no better than yours. I welcome the fact there is little I want to watch - I can get on with so much more. I'd hate the channels to improve and me be without an excuse to turn it off and go and do something more interesting instead


  2. Rhonda,

    Thank you for sharing that program:) I believe I have the good life too! I love being with my family and I enjoy taking care of them. I am learning to knit which I am very excited about!

    We might live more simple than most.. but...I am Happy!!




  3. I liked the tomato show too - made me want to find a Italian family to adopt me! thanks for the heads up about the repeat - guess where i'll be parked friday night. like Julie said - im glad tv is so crappy - it makes it easier not watch :)

  4. I live in Denver Colorado USA. TV programming is so bad here that we have given up on everything except certain Public Broadcasting shows, and they are very much like the one you mentioned. I thought I would miss it so much because I grew up on TV, but instead I read,craft and cook like never before. Also, I no longer pay $50 plus for cable. I feel so much more involved, I love this new life.
    Thank you for a bit of good reading each day.

  5. Thanks for the link Rhonda. Like you, I find tv a bit jaded, but also love, love Time Team, hopefully there'll be a new series along soon.

    I enjoy Compass as well, but a friend and I were saying recently that it's a pity it's on so late...well, late for this chook, who's ready for bed way earlier than 11.30!

    By the way, following on from your chook story yesterday....I have one determined girl, who, despite sharing a very large free range area with only 3 others, believes she should be out in my garden all the time. I watched her yesterday as she climbed the fence with one leg on the fence, and pushed herself up with the other on the bin that was next to it.

    I'm sure she swore at me when I caught her and put her back over her side, she went straight back to where she'd already climbed over to try again, but I'd already moved the bin.

    .....love those chooks.

  6. Thank you for the link!

    I am trying to get to the forum~ but so far haven't had any luck being able to introduce myself. I am not computer savvy, so it is probably just me; but if you have any hints, please let me know.



  7. belle, chooks love to climb. Give them a reward for their efforts and it's very difficult to stop them. LOL at the swearing.

    Angie, you have to join Yuku. After you get a yuku account you should be able to go straight in. The Yuku join link is: http://www.yuku.com/. Once you join you can sign in here: belle, chooks love to climb. Give them a reward for their efforts and it's very difficult to stop them. LOL at the swearing.

    Angie, you have to join Yuku. After you get a yuku account you should be able to go straight in. The Yuku join/sign on is: belle, chooks love to climb. Give them a reward for their efforts and it's very difficult to stop them. LOL at the swearing.

    Angie, you have to join Yuku. After you get a yuku account you should be able to go straight in. The Yuku join link on is: http://www.yuku.com/
    The Yuku sign in link is:
    After you join, as long as you don't log out when you leave, you should be able to go straight in each time.

  8. Thanks for sharing this... unfortunately the content is not viewable if you're outside Australia. I LOVE time to my self and crave solitude (in fact I can be a real hermit)and it's easy for me to find as I live alone (alone not lonely, such a difference!!).

    Happy day to you, Rhonda.

    Diana x

    funnily enough the word verification is mrandmrs....must be for you Rhonda!

  9. How extraordinary!
    After waking very early this morning I decided to watch the Compass interview with Gay Bilson as a way of filling in some dark early morning hours. I am having ten days on my own whilst my partner is away, and I've found a wonderful freedom in being able to do as I wish (within bounds) and watching a TV recording in the wee small hours is one of them. I agree, it was an extremely interesting and thought provoking conversation, plus any discussion regarding the growing and cooking our own food always attracts. I'll be getting a copy of her books to read, and like you I have not deleted the recording as I need to watch it again.


  10. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I just loved this program. In the USA you just download it to watch it on your computer. I had no problem watching it. I loved the one on the Amish too.

  11. I went to your link out of curiosity and saw the message that said content was only available if you lived in Australia. I live in Middle Georgia, USA.

    I scrolled down just a bit, and clicked on the link provided for past episodes, and lo and behold the segment started to play. I don't have time to watch it now, time to cook supper, but will return and view it later.

  12. Sandee and I cancelled TV about 3 1/2 years ago. I got mad at the continual price increases and the fact that I would channel surf until I found an old movie that I have in the closet. Made no sense at all. So now I have Cooks Illustrated TV on the computer for $25 a year plus Down to Earth!!

    Haven't missed the Television a bit!


  13. Will have to watch that, have you seen Costa's garden oddyssey? It's on after family feasts on Thursday, SBS. My favourite show at the moment!

  14. You can get - I have just watched it here in the u.s. Press Download and then the info to the left - no problem - thanks Rhonda - she is a little quirky but seems to have found her bliss.

  15. There is not too much tv that is truly educational and informative and entertaining at the same but the success of Masterchef has hopefully made the producers realize that the public respond favourably to shows that entertain and educate and it has inspired people to get back into their kitchens to make good food and I understand sales of kitchenware increased dramatically! I learned a lot and it was the only show I watched regularly and I was thrilled that a home cook who loved to cook for her family won the grand prize. I also enjoy 'Grand Designs' on the ABC especially the 'eco-homes' they feature.
    I am so surprised that no tv producers have though of making a 'down to earth' style programme that educates and informs viewers on how to live a simpler life. I suppose they would have to endorse products like BH&G does. Just imagine a programme that introduced a wider audience to the joys of domesticity, food gardens, chickens, soap making, bread making, semi-self sufficiency and introduced you to people already living the good life. If such a programme ever came to the tv screen I would expect to see you feature Rhonda!

  16. Dang! I think I would have loved to see that show!

    A question concerning the chooks Rhonda...I have a chance to get a few, currently laying, Cuckoo Maran's from Homemaker Ang next week. Any idea how they will get along with my Buff Orpington's, who are due to begin laying in the next few weeks? Also, I still have one rooster, same age as the Buff's...not sure if that would make a difference.

  17. Good morning Rhonda, what a lovely post. Thanks for telling us about Gay Bilson, I did miss it but will record the ABC2 screening. I love our "Wizard", I too enjoy the benefits of no ads and watching when I choose.

    I was quite moved by your philosophising on the state of being alone, you broached several thoughts I have had.

    Congrats on the Don Burke column, a great read.

  18. Rhonda, thanks so much for reminding me to watch this. I loved it so much, I know and cherish that love of my own company. It was a wonderful and honest, I think, insight into an older woman's life having accepted herself completely and revelling in where she has found herself.
    I will have to watch it several times too just to make sure I see and hear all of it.

    Thanks again.

  19. Rhonda

    I read your blog everyday and have never posted a comment before, but your entry today has inspired me to do so. I have a smile on my face as I write this, as I too am a solitude seeker. I always thought I had hermit tendencies as none of my friends seemed to share the same desire. Maybe thats why I enjoy your blog so much, you are like me :) you enjoy and appreciate your alone time. Thanks for sharing, I can't wait to watch the program later today. I too enjoyed the tomato family.


  20. Cyn, they should get along okay. Orphingtons are usually fairly placid. They will do the usual pecking order thing with little peck to show each other who is the boss. However, you have a rooster and he will probably sort the girls out.

  21. Shelagh C. in HoustonSeptember 09, 2009 10:15 am

    I don't have cable, dish, satellite or any of those TV things you have to pay for. I'm happy with about four channels and watch a lot of public broadcasting programs and am happy with those.

    I'll try to watch the Gay Bilson program on the computer. I watched the Amish program and found it fascinating. It seems so many of them are breaking away from their traditions these days.

    Is Time Team an archeological dig program? I saw a few episodes recently on public TV called "Time Team America" and they were very interesting indeed.


  22. Rhonda,

    I'm from the USA was able to watch thru this link found thru Google without downloading. Thanks for sharing this ... I wrote down some quotes, the one about 'plenty and enough' towards the end was a deep thought ... still thinking on it ...


    Would it be possible to have a section on the Forum for Pets? Consider it please!

    Thanks again for opening up your life with life and being a mentor and friend.

  23. Shelagh C. in HoustonSeptember 09, 2009 10:50 am


    For those in the U.S., just clicking on the red program title will bring it up for viewing. I wasn't allowed to download - got a message about not being available outside Australia.

  24. OH Rhonda, I'm so glad you mentioned the interview with Gay Bilson, as I was totally mesmerized by hwat she was saying for the entire show and plan to view it several more times. Thank goodness for shows like Compass who bring these people to the screen and so we can hear their unique take on life. I hadnt heard of Gay before or of her books, but plan to search some out now. What a fascinating person she is!!

    I was alone for 4 weeks last yr when dh took a trip and at first was v apprehensive about being alone. Would you belive I enjoyed it so much for the same reasons the other reader posted in and it was v librating after all these yrs of being a couple. Hm... Gays ideas and lifestyle have indeed stirred some interesting thoughts! sorry to have gone on for so long!!

  25. Rhonda, I've just sat and watched the Gay Bilson and Ian Gawler episodes of Compass whilst I sipped my tea. Thankyou so much for the gift of bringing them to my attention. I think multiple viewings will be in order here too. It was particularly nice to see Gay acknowledge her joy in solitude. Like you, I have no desire to be without my beautiful family, but time alone is absolutely essential in my life. I enjoy my own company and I enjoy having quiet time with my ponderings and dreamings. I suspect many of us who crave a simpler life feel the same way. Thanks again, Love Anita.xxx

  26. I too really enjoyed the Compass show on Gay Bilson on Sunday night, such a very interesting woman. We certainly have the good life at our place. It really is not about wealth, as in finances. Contentment, and peace of mind. Joy and sharing. Again Rhonda a beautiful sharing.

  27. Television programming is terrible. I get so sick of reality shows and trashy series. Wouldn't it be great if they did a reality show about people who try to live the way we all want to live? Providing for themselves and living on as little as they can? Now that would be something I'd watch! As for your comment on liking to be alone, I, too, enjoy being alone. I can concentrate on my tasks at hand a lot easier and it lets me gather my thoughts and think things through more easily.


  28. Rhonda, I'm in the States & I was able to watch the program. Just wanted to let you & your readers know! :)

  29. Thanks for the link to this lovely episode Rhonda. I loved Gay's definitions and explanations of solitude vs melancoly vs loneliness - much food for thought as I clean today. Also I replayed several times the scenes of the southern vales and Willunga markets. Now very homesick for the beautiful Adelaide plains - didn't really appreciate them as a career girl in my 20's and 30's. Can't wait to go home and drive down there...
    I thought of you as she stood at the bench kneading and could picture you doing exactly that! Have a beautiful day, Jen x
    (ps well done on the forum - it's fantastic)

  30. I, too am over TV but unfortunately do miss some of these great shows that happen along from time to time. Just been watching the Gay Bilson episode of Compass. Loved it. What a wonderful lady. Thanks Rhonda. So much of what she is about, I am attuned to. Felt she was talking about our lifestyle. Love the simple life,from planting the seeds (we have a very 'natural' laize-faire garden style where nothing gets killed, including the chooks); working with the ingredients to produce beautiful food - the whole process - then sharing with a few chosen friends/family; sharing extra produce with those around us and with the wildlife; being part of the community while also being apart from it; feeling at peace and enjoying our solitude. My husband and I both enjoy our solitude and the space around us. I also enjoy washing up by hand - it completes the process. I've always considered us to be a bit stange and antisocial (we've been told a few times over the years!) It seems from reading the comments here there's a lot of us around - maybe we're relatively normal after all ;-))


  31. Bummer! the program looks like it would be interesting to watch, but can't get in the USA.

    Thanks for sharing though.


  32. I too want to thank you for the link. I sat and enjoyed two of the past programs this evening.

    Thank you!

    Deb--Pacific Northwest, USA

  33. I have pretty much given up on television as well. Everything seems to be the same thing, over and over again, just on different channels and at different time-slots. And I'm supposed to belong to the tv-generation (whatever *that* means)!
    One television program that I absolutely LOVE, however, is "Who Do You Think You Are?". I'm fascinated by family histories (not just my own), and this show (on SBS-One at 7.30pm on Sunday) is brilliant. It makes me laugh, cry, and value my own family and its history all the more.

  34. In a couple of months' time I will lose my TV signal as my part of the UK goes digital. At first I was a bit concerned that I would miss out if I don't buy new equipment (I have a very old TV set and only ever received three channels anyway) but everyone's comments here have encouraged me to view the loss positively! Thanks!

  35. Too right about there not being many good programes on TV. I am on the computer now because there is nothing to watch!! There are a few good ones but not many that I JUST HAVE to watch. I missed this show but I am intrigued to at least tape it this Fri.I do watch compass now and then, but thanks for sharing this one:)

  36. Great find on the Gay Bilson programme Rhonda.

    Like her I never get lonely, something my husband doesn't understand. I enjoy my own company and get very crabby if I can't get several hours a day on my own.

    By the way, about 30 seconds after the programme ended I was downstairs in the kitchen making bread for lunch by hand (for the first time) instead of using the machine ;-))

  37. I'm watching it here in New Mexico, USA. Here is the link that I found the segment on Gay Bilson. http://www.abc.net.au/compass/s2657892.htm

    This is an awesome program! Thank you Rhonda.

    Marilyn in NM

  38. Thank you for all the tips on how to watch it....it's now working, and I'm settling in with a cuppa!

  39. Hi Rhonda, and thank you for writing about this and reminding me of the program. I do not watch much TV and therefore miss the odd great show or documentary! I did intend to tape this one though and completely forgot, in the throes of daily life. I have set it to record on ABC2, so thank you. :)

    I'm another one for solitude. Maybe contentment with being alone is a place you're more able to reach as you grow older, the children have grown, the flurry of their activities have ceased and perceived have to's can be relegated to the only if I choose to's! Having said that, I think I have always cherished time alone and cannot recall ever feeling lonely...

  40. Hi Rhonda;

    Thanks for this.
    I think you can download the episode from the ABC website.


    (under latest episode)

    Magda (Perth WA)

  41. Hi Rhonda.

    Greetings from Denmark (Scandinavia)
    I enjoy reading your blog. You are so like my mom:)
    So now she is reading your blog too by recomadation from me:)
    I saw that it said "can't not be viewed outside Australia" but just scrolled down right under and clicked at the episode and it worked.. What a splendid interview.
    I saw the "trouble in Amish..." and it was a good one too.
    Well just to let you know that you don't need to download just refresh the page.

    Thanks again for the awsome blog.

    Kirsten, Denmark

  42. Thanks again for leaving a little piece of yourself when you wright and share what you have done or doing, you inspire me to live more simply and truely appreciated the little things that often seem chores to some but are infact simply pleasures, Thankyou
    Lee xx

  43. These programs remind my love-not love relationship with our public broadcasting station.

    They have some of the best gardening and cooking shows (along with some really good British mysteries on weekend nights) but they can also go overboard on politics.

    I have replaced most TV time with perusing blogs that inspire a lifestyle of simplicity, family, and back to the good life (which we know is not found at the mall). :)


I welcome readers' comments. However, this blog never publishes business links or advertisements. If you're operating a business and want to leave your link here, I will delete your comment .

Blogger Template by pipdig