My name is Deborah Russell. I previously blogged at inastrangeland.wordpress.com, and this blog is a continuation. I set up IaSL as we moved from New Zealand to Australia at the start of 2008. Three years later, we moved home to a land we know in our bones. I am in a strange land no longer, although I would never claim to know all there is to know about Aotearoa New Zealand, the land of my birth, and the land of my dreams.

I am a woman of a certain age, with a long term partner, three children, a chopping and changing not-career. These days I am working as an academic, at a university in a provincial centre in the lower North Island. In this blog, I call it Greenhills University.

I have moved on from the idealism of my youth, but I am still feminist. This blog is about cooking and gardening and politics and books and food and life and trivia, and above all else, it is a feminist blog.

Finally, the opinions on this blog and its predecessor are entirely my own, and I am responsible for them. This blog has no connection whatsoever with my employer.

14 comments on “About

  1. Maureen says:

    I read a few of you IaSL and have heard your voice on PA. Welcome back to NZ!
    I’d like to alert you and your readers to the latest North and South. An “exclusive” is an interview with Felicity Goodyear-Smith: “The ‘Devil’ Defends Herself.” The editorial by Virginia Larson makes the point that sexual abuse cases deserve perhaps no more sympathy than other cases of assault. “And the assumption that sexual abuse is necessarily the worst kind of assault means we …accept that sex abuse victims deserve special compensation denied other victims.”

    “Victims might be better off if we made rather less of their ordeals …”

    She also refers to the “feminist fringe”.

    I was horrified by this for various reasons. Have any of you read it and, well, what do you think?

    • Deborah says:

      Lovely to hear from you, Maureen. I’ve glanced at the article you refer to, but I haven’t got a copy immediately to hand. Give me a couple of days, and I will see if I can get something up about it.

    • Deborah says:

      I’ve put up a post, Maureen. It doesn’t go directly to what you wrote about, but hopefully it at least provides a starting point for discussion.

    • Jono says:

      I think it’s exactly right. What I find especially galling is that, in New Zealand, people subjected to physical or emotional abuse in childhood are offered nothing at all in the way of support, while sexual abuse survivors are elevated to heroic status and tended like vegetables by an endless procession of psychotherapists, memory recoverers and witch doctors who exact years of government funded navel gazing from their hapless clients. I also find it ironic that no money at all is available to men who voluntarily seek help to manage problematic sexual impulses unless they first offend and go to jail.

      I have real sympathy for sexual abuse survivors but I don’t think they are well served by the current politically driven hypersensitivity to this issue. I think many sexual experiences children have with adults are relatively benign and that exaggerated adult alarm is the real source of harm.

    • Deborah says:

      I completely disagree, Jono.. I’ve put you on permanent moderation. That means that I will review any comments you make before they are published.

    • Jono says:

      I didn’t expect you’d agree, but what does that mean? Just that our different experiences have led us to different conclusions. You may feel strongly about your beliefs, but I feel strongly about mine. We should try and put our feelings in perspective and focus on the wellbeing of others, which is to some extent what motivated my initial response. I’m interested to hear what it is you disagree with specifically. I don’t intend any offence but I’m happy for you to moderate my comments.

    • James C. says:

      The questions that Jono is asking seem reasonable to me.

      If that means that I’ve volunteered for permanent moderation, so be it.

  2. Amy says:

    I live in the U.S. and have a 7 yr old daughter who is doing a report on Australian holidays. Her teacher, who lived in Australia, asked if we could make these Anzac biscuits to share. While searching for a recipe, I found your blog and recipe. Trouble is, that in the U.S. (at least in my small corner of it) the only place I can find golden syrup is online, and there is no way I will get an order by the time I have to make them (Wednesday, May 25). I was hoping you could tell me what I might be able to use as a substitute. I keep corn syrup, honey, molasses, and agave all on hand. I bake a lot, so coming across an ingredient I am unfamiliar with is new to me =). I would greatly appreciate your advice, I want to make the cookies as close as possible.

    Thank you,

    • Deborah says:

      Light treacle seems to be the answer: Joy of Baking has a great substitutes list. Also, it’s worth noting that ‘ANZAC’ is a New Zealand day of remembrance too. ANZAC stands for ‘Australia New Zealand Army Corps’.

  3. […] Deborah at A Bee of a Certain Age writes about an article in an NZ paper about the Albany tornado – and how people need to really fucking think before they speak (and also editors and lay-out subs really have to fucking edit and fucking lay-shit-out proper in the papers). And also, a million atheists sigh in unison. If God saved the childcare centre, why didn’t he save the husband and father too? […]

  4. […] mags at the hair salon – When loathing feels normal, don’t buy it. Deborah at A Bee of a Certain Age writes about an article in an NZ paper about the Albany tornado – and how people need to […]

  5. Julia says:

    Hi Deborah!
    I found your old blog about your grandmother’s Christmas cake recipe. I live in the US with my husband, and won’t be making it home to NZ for Christmas this year, and so am looking for a little taste of NZ to bring to my winter Christmas. I was thinking of making small NZ Christmas cakes for friends and family as homemade gifts this year and wanted to get your opinion on how the cake will taste if it’s done in little mini cake tins (or something) as opposed to one big one. This will be my first “solo” Christmas cake, so any suggestions you have are greatly appreciated!
    Thank you!

    • Deborah says:

      For anyone clicking through, Julia is referring to this recipe: Cooking with my grandmother: traditional Christmas cake.

      I think it should be fine in mini-cake tins, Julia, ‘though you would still want to line the tins, and cook the cakes quite slowly. And obviously, they won’t take nearly as long. I would aim for deep cake tins i.e. make them small, but deep – say 4 to 5cm deep. I would test the cakes after about two hours, but it could still take up to three hours for them to cook through, depending on how deep you make them.

      Good luck!

  6. Kathy and Alex Scott says:

    Hello Deborah – I have just found a review written by you in October 2009 about our book ‘Mitch and Monty’. Thank you – we are quiet delighted. It is now sold-out. It was a book we enjoyed doing and I believe, has given others a lot of pleasure. All the best for the future.

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