Friday, December 21, 2018

It works! Counting our blessings

You know what it feels like, when you have had a dream, and take the plunge and try to carry it off?

You know the struggles, the disappointments, the way you have to call on all your resources of patience and diligence and optimism?

You know how things go unexpectedly wrong but somehow it is OK?

All of that and more has brought us to this week, when in a rush the tiles were done on Sunday, the electricians swooped in a frenzy on Monday to connect everything up and the plumbers wrangled all the taps and stuff into place so that by Tuesday evening we had our kitchen returned to us in all its pristine glory!  (of course it can't stay like that!)

The whole place is just wonderful. We love the natural light the new big window lets in. We love the view over our patio and into the back yard. 

There are little moments:
  • DH comes in and announces that 'unpacking the dishwasher is so easy now" as the drawers are much more conveniently situated and don't require kneeling down to reach into the nether corners of the bottom shelf of some cupboard or another. 
  • I take something hot out of the oven and plonk the whole thing straight onto the stainless steel bench next to the stove.
  • We stand at the sink and marvel at how lovely everything is
  • We can work in several work areas without getting in each other's way

From this wonderful space, I made this: our first sourdough loaf in our new kitchen. 

It has been a learning curve -getting used to the induction cook top and the electric oven and the new combi microwave in particular. The instruction manuals are pretty daunting. Many features I suppose I will never use.

We had invited friends over for a solstice party on Friday, so my new kitchen got a workout,  and some admiring comments, when they came over. I made a vegetable quiche and a tarte a l'oignon (from Elizabeth David's book on Vegetables, which I found in an op shop) and a cake from Nigella's Book "Simply Nigella"- I served it with our mulberries.

Our last bottle of Kalamata olives was opened. I had seen an Instagram post of someone who made a spiced marinade for their olives, so I gently fried garlic and cumin and then tumbled the olives in the pan and warmed it all through with a bit of chilli flakes added. I guess there are other flavours I can try now I know how popular they are!

Now that is done, we can settle down to think about Christmas and the fact our son, daughter in law and the 3 grandchildren will be over in Perth for 2 weeks just after Christmas. We need to oil the bikes, find the toys we packed away, set up the train set and make the place a bit toddler-proof by putting up anything low enough for him to reach!

From me to you, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas time, from our corner of Perth Western Australia.

This is where I intend to spend a lot of time in the near future.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Nearly there, with a few delays

There has been a lot of painting this week! Lovely DH worked hard on painting the half-finished kitchen so that when work did proceed, we were ready for it. We used our favorite colour "Antique White USA" which is a sort of eggshell white. He replaced the door furniture on the door which leads to the laundry, and painted doors and door frames white. 

The stainless steel top for the area around the oven and induction cooktop was delivered.  We wanted stainless steel because it is the kind of thing which doesn't mind you taking a hot casserole from the oven and dumping it on top of it. It will get worn in over time -and I think that the scratches will add to the look of my working kitchen. 

The utensil jar you can see is one I found this week at a new St Vinnie's op shop near me. 

The outside wall which was patched when the new window came in, was sealed and then painted to match the rest of the wall around out patio. Our home is built in mostly dark browns and red bricks, and some years ago we painted the patio walls to brighten things up out there. Turns out it was a good move, as you can't get these coloured bricks any more!

The patio is now back in business again, ready for our summer.

We had a bit of bad news, with the tiler reporting in sick so they couldn't come to work on the kitchen last Friday. This would put all the other trades back too, and this close to Christmas things were getting difficult. Fortunately the kitchen building company was able to get a tiler to work on Sunday. The only problem with that was that, when he came, we realised that he did not have the tiles we had chosen, and neither had they been delivered to our place! We managed to find some plain white tiles in the local hardware in sufficient quantities to enable the tiler to complete the job yesterday. 

We are now hoping to see the kitchen finished, if the plumber and electricians will only return for the final pieces of work.

Stay tuned! 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Tradie on site!

In Australia we call tradespeople "Tradies". There have been a lot of them in our home this week, as it became a building site.

First there were the super organised and professional building tradies who demolished the old kitchen and took out the windows. That was a very noisy couple of days! They were well organised and they cleaned up after themselves. The big surprise was that the replacement window was installed on Day 1 instead of Day 3 as we had expected, so we could immediately see the effect. 

The transformation that the window has brought is amazing -we have much more natural light and a lovely view over the patio and back garden. I just know this will make me happier. 

We lived with a partly boarded up room and a but of a mess for several days but gradually the hole where the old vertical window had been was replaced with fastwall bricks and faced off ready for the big transformation when the cabinets were installed.

These are even better than I imagined they would be!

DH painted the ceiling before the cupboards went in, and will paint the walls next week as we wait for the stainless steel benchtop to go here -around the new electric oven and induction cook top. 

I have one working power pint, and  sink which is not plumbed in, so no taps either. Never the less the fridge is working and I have a kitchen bench and drawers so I have moved the camp kitchen to the new kitchen and cleared stuff from the rest of the house.

This feels more 'normal'. I have been trying hard to do some basic cooking -one night I made a very old fashioned chicken dish -the one where you put chicken pieces in the slow cooker with a can of apricot nectar and the contents of a packet of french onion soup. With my rice cooker to make the rice it was a simple and tasty meal. DH and DD were happy to make its reaquaintance -it was probably a staple in the 1990s, I am guessing! We have also cooked sausages on the barbeque, and I have found out that you can make pasta in a rice cooker too. With a jar of pasta sauce and some cooked meat stirred through it is another meal.  I can cook baked potatoes in the slow  cooker- we served them with home made coleslaw.

So we are getting along nicely. DH is happy that most of the appliances which were clogging up his shed are now gone and sort-of installed. The cat is happy that every few days she gets a normal quiet house and can feel normal. DD and I will be happy to finally get to our Christmas decorations boxes and be able to get more festive. 

I hope to have more progress to report next week!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Packing up and picnics

This is the week that the kitchen renovation will begin, so this is the week we are packing up the kitchen for a several weeks! This is exciting and a bit terrifying, and quite a lot of work. Dh and I have been packing boxes for days now.

On Thursday some burly guys will be here to dismantle the kitchen completely and make a new bigger window. Then the other things happen slowly...for weeks...until (hopefully, with the wind in the right quarter) we have a sparkly new all electric kitchen by the 18th December. Here are some graphic mock-ups of where we are heading.

You can see the new window on the left. A looong looong bench under it.

The stove will be in a new position. There will be a combi microwave under the bench as well as the oven on the other wall.

We want to be able to manage as best we can making simple breakfasts and lunches, at least, while the work goes on. Eating all our meals out would be costly, and we don't like going out to breakfast anyway! We know that there will be days when getting some home delivered food, or going out for a meal will be necessary for our sanity, and that will be fine, but it would be good to keep them to a minimum if we can: we are used to home cooked food, with minimal fats, sugars and refined additives.

I made a list of the equipment I thought we could stash in the rest of the house -things like the kettle, my rice cooker and slow cooker, and sandwich maker.  There is a microwave which fits in the laundry at present. A small box of spoons, sharp knives and can openers has been saved from the packing up. We should be able to make do with sandwiches and cereals and noodles and salad, so long as the teas and coffees are still available.

I have a small fridge in DH's study -which will house some milk and cheese, salads, boiled eggs and cooked meats. We will have a bowl for washing up on a picnic table on the patio -which will only be accessible when the workers go home, for at least the first few days.  As we are putting in a new window which looks out on to the patio area, the patio will be a work area at first.

Hopefully by the end of the first week, we will have the patio available to us once again, and that should see us through the rest of the work.

We will paint the ceiling and walls ourselves at the beginning of the third week.

Exciting times ahead.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A pep talk to myself

Sometimes I am a bit overwhelmed.  In my quest for a simple life, sometimes I still battle with my expectations and everything feels like there is too much to do.  This is pretty silly, because in this kind of life -doing things myself, cooking from scratch, making things rather than buying them -nothing will be perfect, not enough things finished.

This week the patio desperately needed cleaning and the spiders need to be evicted -again. There are weeds in the brick paving. There is mulch in the trailer, not yet spread. I need to find a shady spot for some pots -and they are cluttering up the patio. I have stuff to take to the op shop, and they are currently cluttering up the lounge room.

This morning I had a good hour or more working in the garden, which was great. When I noticed that my sense of being overwhelmed was taking over my joy at being able to work in my garden on a lovely sunny morning, I knew it was time to take myself in hand, and start looking with positive eyes again. Plenty of people would LOVE to have my life -and my 'problems'. In order to have a pep talk to myself I am writing, not about what is not yet done, but what has been achieved this week.

1. Cabinet Swap. 

 This cabinet used to be in the kitchen, storing spices and other dry goods. Now we are renovating the kitchen , it needed to move. I spent almost a whole day making space for it in my sewing room, and moving an old IKEA billy bookcase into the kitchen as temporary storage for those things.

The cabinet looks great in the sewing room, and has made everything much tidier. 

2. The Strelitzia has gone -  to good homes.

We got a landscaper to come in and dig up a huge strelitzia which was in the wrong place in the garden. I was scared that our grand-children would be spiked by the hard pointy leaves, and I was tired of having to squeeze past it when I wanted to fill the bird bath.

I gave the clumps of the plant away on our local Buy Nothing Facebook page. It has been well received by four neighbouring gardeners. 

3. Peace Conference 

DH and I had a wonderful time attending a Peace Conference all weekend. It was a positive way to commemorate the signing of the Armistice -with a group of like-minded people who are working hard to ensure not just that we remember the soldiers who died, but also we learn to make peace so that there might be NO more war!With this in mind, I refer you to a movement which is dedicated to ensuring that 'we must never again allow the circumstances to exist in which one man has the capacity to commit sending Australia to war". (Quotation from former PM Malcolm Fraser). I remember the huge number of people who rallied in Perth and other Australian cities to say we did not want to go to war in Iraq, but the Prime Minister committed our troops to war anyway.

The movement seeks reform of the War Powers Act under which the executive government can commit troops to international conflict without bringing the matter before the parliament. Find out more at 

4. A book cull and other decluttering

In preparation for my new kitchen, I decluttered some cook books. This one was not being given the use it deserved, so I found it a new home with a family with young children who are already eagerly experimenting with growing their own food. I think Stephanie would approve! 

I took some other things to the Op shop and had a delightful return trip with these very pretty Kosta Boda snowball tealight candles. 

5. Cleaning happened 

DD helped me to make up a Spider Go Away spray of lavender oil, dishwashing soap and water -which I used to help the spiders make up their minds that the garden is a better place to live than my patio. Apparently Peppermint oil is better, though eucalyptus and citrus is also good. 

I washed the outdoor furniture cushions, just in case the spiders were hiding there too, and cleaned the place up nicely. DH cleaned the house. 

6. Sewing  blocks

I have almost finished making the 66 blocks for my Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt (free pattern from Bonnie Hunter here ). I am also working on a WAQA community quilt project for CanTeen, using their bandanas as the base. 

7. Choir practice

We are only a few week's away from our Christmas concert, singing Britten's A Ceremony of Carols. DH and I are hard at work practicing our parts. We will be performing at St Barnabas's Anglican Church Leederville on December 8th at 7:30pm. 

There, that feels better! So much achieved, so much life to celebrate -and I haven't mentioned having dinner on a warm evening in a restaurant in South Perth, overlooking the city and the river, with a dear friend who was visiting from Melbourne. I haven't mentioned the meals made, the articles written, the books read....

I hope that my list of achievements will inspire you to look again at how you are going -and celebrate the good things. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Lots to do

Firstly, thank you to those who have been leaving comments on my blog: I hadn't realised that Blogger had a new way of handling them and only just found comments going back months! It is nice to make contact with each other this way. 

There seems to be a lot going on here just now. We have signed the contract for the renovation of the kitchen, and have a rough start date. Our choices have been made for appliances, and pretty soon we will need to pack things up and make way for the builders who think they will start in the first week in December. Now that this is becoming a reality, it can't happen soon enough -the layout of our present kitchen is not ideal. We often cook together, DH and I when we have guests, and yesterday we were in each other's way a bit. Our new kitchen will have more work surfaces and more storage. 

Nevertheless I was chuffed with the way this butterscotch apple and blueberry pie turned out yesterday. We had friends over for dinner, and it was great for desert. The recipe is in Nigella Lawson's classic cookbook "How to Eat". I added 30g of icing sugar to the base, and Nigella suggested, and it made a lovely flan base even though it was hard to keep it intact when rolling it out. 

Our  mantle is decorated with a new cornucopia vase (right) , which I found in a second hand shop. It is from the same factory as another I already had, so they make a nice pair. In fact, the fact that I now have a pair makes the first one (left)  more attractive I think. I have filled them with olive leaves and silk roses. 

I am busy making blocks to add to the pile needed for my queen size version of Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Mountain Majesties above, using beautiful fabrics mostly bought in the Blue Mountains when we visited last year. I have to make 66 and have got about 42 done. Getting there! 

Spring is warming up nicely, and my grapevine pergola/ natural air conditioner is filling out nicely this year. This is on the north side of our house. 

We were able to get out to a beach walk recently on a lovely morning, and on another day went for a walk around a park. The busy season for the garden is mostly over: we have switched the reticulation on, so there is a lot less to do.  I have lots of lettuce and rainbow chard at the moment 

   I found a new to me Local Quilting Shop nearby and was pleased to make the acquaintance of the staff, and to find that they have every single Kona cotton colour on display! I love Kona cottons and I am sure I will be back to add to my collection. 

This sewing machine was on the counter - nearly 100 years old -one of the shuttle bobbin ones -and amazingly intact and in good condition. 

Our choir is working hard on Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols -the music is amazing! Christmas will be upon us before we know it -and I had better get some organising done! Have you got plans yet? 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Raising my voice

This is Anti Poverty Week, and so I went along to the rally in the city of Perth. I see this as part of my Simple Living practice: to engage with the community in ways to improve our lives together. If I want my life to be sustainable and simple I am sure the answer lies in assisting positive social change for all. I am not living this life in isolation. 

It is shocking that inequality is growing around the world. In Australia it is fueled by the lack of entry level jobs, wage stagnation and the fact that the Newstart allowance given to job seekers has not increased for 25 years.

There is an increasing tendency to blame the poor for their situation, instead of seeing it in structural terms. We can fix poverty by doing several basic things: raising Newstart, creating more social housing and ending the scandalous Robodebt fiasco, where welfare recipients are being forced to defend themselves from paying fake debts to Centrelink. It is estimated at least 1 in 6 is fake or needs to be corrected.  Then there is the punitive use of Cashless Welfare Cards, to stigmatise welfare recipients and take away their agency to make decisions about their use of welfare support.

Here is the St Vincent de Paul statement about the Cashless Welfare Card:  St Vincent de Paul Society does not support the cashless welfare card. There is no evidence it improves the wellbeing of individuals or communities, either by reducing substance abuse or by increasing employment outcomes. The cashless welfare card also carries a high risk of unintended and expensive consequences across government and the community, including social exclusion and stigmatisation, increased financial hardship, and the erosion of individual autonomy and dignity. Ultimately, this is a punitive and paternalistic measure that is driven by ideology rather than evidence.Find more here 

There was a major rally to call for a total ban on fracking non-conventional gas in Western Australia.  I went to that one, too! We are worried about the impact of fracking on our natural environment, particularly on our water supplies. 

The final thing I did in a fortnight of raising my voice was that I attended my local City of Joondalup council meeting, to assist with a campaign to get them to consider divesting from fossil fuels.  The group I went with comes from Perth. we are building the Divestment movement and resisting new fossil fuel projects to build a broad and effective climate movement powerful enough to create a safe climate future.

This is what I said:

I ask Councillors to support the motion that

"the CEO to prepare a report on the options for the city to change its risk appetite and investment policy to place a greater percentage of invested funds into institutions that have all (or a great majority) of their portfolio in fossil fuel free investments, providing that in so doing the City can secure a rate of return that is at least equal to the alternative offered by other institutions".

Climate change is, as you and I know, one of the challenges facing the City of Joondalup in the future. I refer you to the recently released “Coastal Survey Outcomes Report” which has been considering how our city might respond to the challenges of coastal erosion due to rising sea levels.

I also refer you to the City of Joondalup Environment Plan 2014 to 2019 which has a whole chapter on Climate Change Mitigation. If we are serious about this problem for our City, we won’t be undermining our efforts at reducing waste and supporting local environments by using the City’s assets to invest in industries which will make climate change worse! We can send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry: change your ways now and join us in tackling climate change

As the Mayors of London and New York said on 10th September this year that “We believe that ending institutional investment in companies that extract fossil fuels and contribute directly to climate change can help send a very powerful message that renewables and low-carbon options are the future. If we want to fund the scale of transformation the world needs, we must foster sustainable investment and use the power of institutional investors.”.

Do you get involved with local community actions like this? 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Getting serious about the kitchen renovation- it only took a year!


Home made sausage rolls: why have I not done this before? I am astonished at how easy they are, and tasty. I found a recipe which adds fennel seeds to the pork mince and they are terrific.

Well, that took a while! In October 2017 I wrote a post about our ideas for renovating the kitchen. I wrote then that there were things which had become difficult about this kitchen, and what we wanted to change:

  • There are very few drawers. As I am now in my early 60s, I am finding it harder to reach into the back of the bottom shelf and lift out a heavy casserole dish that I have stored there. The idea of having a drawer which can hold my dishes and which I can pull out to reach them is very attractive. This feature will help us to move into our senior years with confidence we can manage things here
  • I sometimes run out of bench space. I do a lot of cooking and baking, and DH loves to preserve and make jam. This kitchen is a bit cramped sometimes. Some of my appliances -like the microwave and the stand mixer -have to be stored on the bench too. 
  • It doesn't have a lot of natural light. I would like bigger windows to see out of and let light in.
  • I can't store my baking trays in the kitchen -they are in the linen closet.
  • I can only fit in a bottom mount fridge/freezer, but I would love a side by side fridge freezer so I can keep more in the freezer. Right now we have another fridge outside -mostly because we need the extra freeer space, but it is not always so convenient to go out there. In the summer it is a hot place for a fridge to be kept, so I guess the fridge motor is working hard out there. 
  • I sometimes wish I had an extra oven -I have used my barbecue as an oven when things get busy. My current freestanding stove and oven is showing signs of age and the oven in particular has a small capacity because its heating source takes up quite a bit of room. 
  • We have solar panels on the roof, so using electricity rather than gas would be a good thing for the planet and cheaper for us, especially now I am retired and can do more cooking during the daytime. I could replace the gas stove with an induction cooktop and electric oven. 
  • The layout of the kitchen could be improved

I guess there were a lot of reasons why we didn't act on our initial ideas back in October last year. We knew that the building industry in Australia shuts down over the Christmas -New Year period, and it was unlikely that we would get the project up and running then.

We got stuck into some easier updates -painting the lounge room and dining room, for instance. Then I really got uncomfortable about how messy and inconvenient the kitchen renovation would be. I couldn't face it so I just left the idea altogether.

Anyway, this week, with the weather warming up and the possibility of cooking outside become practical again, we started getting quotations for the work we wanted. The first quote was terribly off-putting, though, as it was hugely over my estimated budget. In my innocence, I had looked at what our last bathroom renovation had cost, and doubled it, but in fact this quote was four times as much!

We also discovered that it was going to be difficult to get my desired side-by-side fridge and freezer in the kitchen without compromising either the amount of light in the kitchen (smaller window) or the amount of bench space near the stove when moved to the interior wall. I was seriously disappointed.

It took a day or so to reflect on that experience and to get back into trying to find a way around the problems we had encountered. I reminded myself that we live simply, that we don't need grandiose finishes and that by keeping our goals in mind we could hopefully find a way to a kitchen which would work for us, but not absorb so much in the budget.

We went to IKEA and have sought a detailed quotation from them -it looks more in our ball park already. I am encouraged by recommendations from the Young House Has a Podcast people that their IKEA experience was fine -and also by recommendations from someone DH knows, who is also happy with theirs.

We have also sought a third quotation from another custom kitchen cabinet maker: hoping that it might be somewhere less than the first one, and not too much different from the IKEA one. The designer they sent out to measure up was most impressed to catch me in the middle of making my sourdough bread, and he also understood entirely why we didn't want expensive stone benchtops, for example, as I couldn't see what the advantage was in them. I have laminex benchtops we put in over 20 years ago and they have held up very well

In the meantime I have done a major cull of kitchen equipment, and sent a number of things to the op shop, so there is more room in the cupboards. This is not instead of renovating, I hasten to add, but so that when we need to pack up the kitchen, we are only packing what is essential.

I am hoping that we can do all the major planning of this renovation now, and start it in late January when the building industry comes back from their summer holidays.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Unless...the Lorax quilt is finished

I wasn't going to make this quilt! I was looking for something else in my stash, when I came upon a Dr Seuss panel which I had totally forgotten I had. I was immediately inspired to make a quick quilt for DGS #1 who is 4 years old, and who has recently shown a love for the Lorax movie. 

There were 10 distinct panels on the fabric , so I chose my favourite 9 and saved one for the back. Then I found some fabric which picked up the colours in the prints, for some borders around each scene. I was looking for things which wouldn't look out of place with the colours and which might bring 'growing things' to mind.

Then I sashed it all with neutral print squares (mostly left over from other projects) and added navy cornerstones. Here I am sewing on my favourite Singer 326K, recently returned from the mechanic and good to go.

I think it was three weeks from start to finish on this little quilt.

I used a pieced back -leftovers from the front fabric -and made a 'frankenbatting" by sewing a few pieces together. Then it was a bright yellow binding and I was done. 

Here is the quilt outside in the garden among the fruit trees.

I will wash it and get it sent off to our grandson soon.

This quilt is the fourth one for the year for me: see the others I have sewn this year here 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

My standards are slipping! My heart is full

Sometimes I knead bread whilst wearing my pyjamas!  

Sometimes I work in the garden  a long time, and don't get around to showering and being clean again until lunchtime!

Sometimes I sit on the couch and read books for hours!

How much of my retirement life should I share?

 Sometimes I think of this as I converse with people I know: won't there be a problem with people who are not yet able to retire, thinking that I am just skiting about my wonderful life? On the other hand, they probably think I am being a bit slack, with slipping standards and a complete lack of intellectual rigor and discipline! 

My heart has led me here -over ten years ago I was sick and sore and worn out with the stresses of full time work for both DH and I in difficult jobs and with a young adult family and a home and church and everything. My job was fabulous and exactly what I wanted to do, but involved a lot of looking AT the pain and suffering in the world, and feeling that there was not a lot I could do to change it. Where others looked away, I looked at -and was active and disappointed often that the compassion I thought we could offer was not being offered to vulnerable people. 

My heart said "simplify" and I started to do that. I sought calm in my surroundings, I stopped shopping as a leisure pursuit, I started to meditate. I said NO to some things I had been involved in. I stepped back. This helped me keep going. 

I listened to my heart when it said "Notice: every holiday you put on your apron and go to the kitchen and cook from scratch, and you are happy there." I used to shock my friends by saying I turned into a 1950s housewife when I knocked off work...but I didn't think it was a betrayal of my professional life, but a new thing I could enjoy. 

My heart said later when I was contemplating leaving work "Listen to me now: is there a place where you feel joy more than here in this garden?"  That made the decision easy.

My life now  is full of challenges: can I make a new loaf of bread as good as the last one? Can I grow these vegetables from seeds I saved? Can I defeat fruit fly this year? Can I live my life with more awareness of each passing moment? Can I get that book from the library that everyone is talking about, but which I don't need to own any more? Can I improve my quilting skills? Can I give more away of my life and my time? 

The rewards are great: getting to know the local magpies (see picture above) took us years  in this house, but being here to see this one fly on the back of my chair near the window to say "Food Please, Human!" each day during spring, is a pretty wonderful thing and not one I could enjoy whilst sitting in an office in the city somewhere.

We ate freshly made homemade strawberry jam (thanks DH) and sourdough,  this week. We used to make bread and jam before I retired, but perhaps there is more time for this sort of thing these days? I think there is.

These days we tend to give each other tickets to things instead of presents, and this occasion was for Father's Day. It is lovely to be able to share the fun, and excitement of an event like this. We have heard these talented people several times now, and enjoy it very much. Their CDs have been playing in the house all week since. 

I have two hours most days to work in the garden, and that these Spring mornings it is a real joy to do so. The rewards for this work are seeing the plants thrive, or being able to go out to the garden to pick as much parsley, mint, thyme, dill, fennel, curry leaves, kaffir lime leaves as I want? We have so many lemons I can casually cut them in half to squeeze in a glass of water, and not worry how much they cost or if I will need one for cooking later in the week. 

I still read  a lot, and not just cook books and novels either!   I volunteer, and also still learn French, and still enjoy a good conversation. I don't need to prove anything anymore, so I don't push myself if the book is boring, or the volunteer space is not respectful, or if the people are difficult.

This is my blog and I am glad I have it -now when I look back to the beginning when I started writing, I can see just how far we have come. If you have found your way here, and are on this journey too, I would love to hear from you sometime. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Spring things

We have been very busy in the garden since we got home from our holiday. The winter weeds were knee high, so we did a quick sweep of the triffid-like nasturtiums and what I call "winter grass" and made a huge pile on a tarpaulin. Then we spread mulch which had been sitting in the trailer since before we went away -for exactly this moment. We call mulch "makeup for gardens" because everything looks so much neater and nicer under a thick layer of mulch. I  have probably spent two hours nearly every day since we got home, in the garden.

With that done, I am now more into the productive side of gardening - making sure everything is ready for the growth spurt which Spring brings. We have had a lot of rain this winter, which means that the citrus are continuing to produce heavy, juicy fruit as well as having a huge production of blossoms. The blueberries are setting fruit now,. My deciduous fruit are coming into leaf: mulberry, pomegranate, quince, grapes. I am feeding things, pruning and training things, planting things: tomatoes, lettuce in particular. I have been working on the styrofoam wicking beds, which I use to extend the veggie gardens and which are very useful for tomatoes. We can't replant tomatoes in the same soil for about 3 years or more here, because of problems with nematodes. I therefore plant tomatoes in wicking beds in new potting mix each year. This is the fence in the front of the house, near the carport. We squeeze as much productivity as we can in this 700sm plot!

DH took the pile of weeds to the tip and came back with another load of mulch, as we haven't finished the garden entirely yet. It will help to preserve the soil moisture as the summer comes. Our summers are usually dry from about November through to April or May.

There is only so much gardening I can do in a day, though. A couple of hours has me ready for more gentle pursuits. This is the quilt top I have made for my DGD1, featuring the Lorax panel I found when looking for something else in my stash. I have cobbled together a backing, and sewn pieces of leftover batting for it, so today or tomorrow I plan to be down on the floor pinning it together.

DH and I took a day off on Wednesday to go up to Walyunga National Park again. We expected that the river would be spectacular after all the rains, and it certainly was!

These two kangaroos were looking very well fed and relaxed as we walked up to Syd's Rapids. It is always a thrill to see them in the wild. The walk took us about two hours -it was 6 km there and back but we went fairly slowly, just enjoying everything and stopping to take pictures when something caught our eye.

The wildflowers were abundant again this year. I have decided I really need to have a Field Guide to the flowers and plants of the Swan Coastal Plain, because I am often stumped to know what they are called. Hmm: maybe I should add that to the Christmas List? I have started one on my phone so I can remember my good ideas. 

I am aware of just how lovely and precious this place is. It is under threat from so many things, but climate change is already putting our environment under stress. This area is a biodiversity hot spot- we have large numbers of plant and animals which are found nowhere else in the world but this tiny south-west corner of Australia.  I went along to the Rise for Climate rally in Perth last weekend, and have joined a group of people working with to try to get our city council to divest from investments in carbon producing industries.

We could be a Clean State -we have abundant sunshine for much of the year, and lots of wind and tides too -with some storage capacity we could power this state with renewable, clean energy entirely. It is a bit of a dream, but without a dream, almost nothing will get done.