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.