Sunday, February 17, 2019

Second summer is here

The weather is just so nice at the moment , it is a great time to be doing things! 

My Scrappy Mountain Majesties (from Bonnie Hunter's Free patterns tab) blocks are now together, and I have nowhere I can easily lay it out flat, but yet there are not enough of them to make a good quilt for our queen size bed. This means I am now thinking of border possibilities. The fabrics are ones I bought when travelling through the Blue Mountains, and feature indigenous designs and the colours and flowers of the bush. I loved working with them. 

We harvested the grapes, and DH made 5 jars of grape jam. 

The harvest wasn't a great success: many of the grapes had split -we think we were not giving them enough water. DH has therefore been 're-jigging the retic". We discovered that the solenoids which control our reticulation were wearing out, so perhaps the water wasn't getting where we wanted it to go efficiently. DH replaced three of the drip lines, and went to the factory (the Holman factory in Scarborough) to pick up a part to repair the controller. This meant a $60 bill for the part and $30 for the hoses, rather than hundreds for the whole system. You can see the dripper lines in the picture below. They are normally hidden by the mulch. Perth is a very dry city, and we always have water restrictions over the summer, so an efficient automated system is pretty important if you want to grow food.  The mulch is a way of shading the roots and keeping weeds down as well as adding much needed humus to our very sandy soils. 

The grapevine is not just here for fruit, though. It has done a fantastic job of shading the northern front elevation of the house. This is the first year of deep shade. The leaves have started turning yellow now, and some of them have fallen already. I love the way it looks from inside my sewing room and bedroom. 

We have a  new shop nearby which sells staples and eco-friendly products in bulk- you take your containers in and they fill them up for you. I was really pleased to get some wholemeal spelt flour to add to my sourdough this week. I can walk there and back! 

One of the people at DH's church gave him 3 kg of fresh figs, so he made fig jam too. There are also two bowls of fig and fennel paste to serve with cheese. We can use these for dinner parties and also as gifts. 

The basil is growing well in the wicking styrofoam boxes so I am enjoying the summer tastes of tomatoes and basil. YUM

This week I started reading this book by Charles Massy called "The Call of the Reed Warbler". It is a book which will change your world view, especially if you care about growing your own food or having a sustainable earth. I got it from the library. I totally recommend it! It is very helpful to see the way in which farming (or gardening) involves whole ecosystems. If we can work with nature we will do better as will the planet we live on. 

In my walks around the suburb, I often admire the trees, especially the oldest ones which must have been here before the suburb was developed in the 1970s. This one has a stump in the centre, with a bird hollow wired into it. The birds have been interesting this week: all of a sudden the crows have started calling again after a few silent months. We have been visited by black cockatoos who come to the pine tree in our neighbour's yard. There have also been white cockatoos feeding on the white gums which are flowering along the valley. We are in Bunuru-the Noongar people's name for this 'second summer' season which is also a time of the white flowers with lots of white flowering gums in full bloom, including Jarrah, Marri and Ghost Gums.

We are considering ripping up some of the bricks which we laid down about 10 years ago to cover the piece of land which is between our property line and the street (we call it here the 'verge' but in Victoria it was the 'nature strip". I am thinking it would be great to grow some low-growing native plants for the birds and insects. I must check the Council regulations, as there are very strict rules on what can and cannot be done on this part of the public land in our Council. Anyway, that won't be until later in the year as we need to wait until the winter rains come before planting any new gardens. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Showers of blessings

I found this 'golden showers' tree on my walk yesterday afternoon. So stunning that I had to stop and take a photo to share. The neighbour saw me and we had a nice chat about this tree, and how we all want one just like this!

It was an eventful week for me last week -my routine was completely upturned by the need to consult our GP who then ordered a battery of tests, which took all week to complete. Blood tests, ECG, CAT scan and bone scan in rapid succession! So far I seem to be remarkably healthy according to these tests, so of course there are more to come, as we try to find out what sparked the problem and if it is important. I am reminded yet again how remarkable our health system is, when it is working like this -quickly and compassionately. It was a bit stressful -made even more so when I broke a tooth and needed a filling too, as I am a coward am not great with dentists. Then there was the unexpected find in the CAT scan, which prompted the bone scan to ensure that the 'find' was not anything to do with the breast cancer I had 14 years ago. I am so thankful it been declared today as having a benign character! Hence I am very aware of the 'showers of blessings'!

Perhaps these characters had something to do with my good fortune?  We went to have a quick dinner in Northbridge on Friday, before a show, and were randomly placed right in the front row for the dragon dance for Chinese New Year. The dragons showered us with shredded lettuce they had eaten -apparently we are now expected to have rampant good fortune in the Year of the Pig.

The reason I was out walking yesterday was that I was visiting our Street Pantry. It is being used and is doing well! It has filled up several times -and emptied too- good to see it being used, and people being so generous.

These remarkable things are the red caps of  Eucalyptus erythrocorys, commonly known as Illyarrie, Red-capped gum or Helmet nut gum, which is always in flower at this time of the year. The red caps fall off and the bright yellow flowers appear. DD used to collect the red caps in her uniform pocket on the way to primary school- a memory I will always associate with these flowers.

We were moved by the stunning Boorna Waanginy  (Let the Trees speak) light and sound show at Kings Park on Sunday night. It was such a stunning portrayal of the love of First Nation people for this fragile land, and. a plea that we listen to their wisdom in taking care of it. This display of seed pods and stories of people-faces beamed onto the screen in the centre)  committing themselves to care for our environment (was inspired.They each chose a 'totem' to take particular care of. I think my totem is the Illyarrie.

At home we have been doing some preserving. DH made some fig jam with figs which someone gave to us, and also made a fig and fennel paste to serve with cheese. They smelled fabulous when they were cooking.

So that is it for me this week. I have more tests to come, but life is good, isn't it?

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Community and many other wonderful things

A group of local people have started a Street Pantry in our suburb. The local Anglican church has allowed us to set it up on the verandah of their church, and the local MP gave us the cupboard. I am helping the group.

We have a closed FaceBook group with lovely generous members, who have provided enough food to fill this cupboard -more than 140 people are members of the group. We have non-perishables including toiletries. 

This week we are going to tell some of the agencies and professionals who may come in contact with people who are struggling, as we hope that they will come and help themselves when in need.

In way this should not be necessary, but with welfare payments so low, and people having payments cut off for no reason, we do need it. 

In fact, it has been quite a week for community serendipity. We were given two of these books at Christmas, so I offered on on the local Buy Nothing group.

A neighbour found out I collected cornucopia vases, and gave me this lovely glass one in a pretty pink. Just great for a few roses, which is all I have in the garden at the moment. 

 We finally sold the park home in Northam that DH has had responsibility for, for four years as Executor of his brother's estate. It is a great relief to see this gone. DH and I went up to clear it out this week -last time! Good thing we always have "emergency champagne" for such occasions.

The park home had some pieces of furniture in it, which we don't need, so we have been offering them on the Buy Nothing group. It is so nice to meet the neighbours this way. 

I did save one piece of furniture -  a chair which I have placed in the sewing room. Dora thinks it is hers! I got quite active about tidying up in there, and have made more room for useful things. I want to keep this room actively useful, not just for storing things 'in case'. I want it to be nice to work in, a pleasant place. This chair is for the times when DH comes over from his study and we chat together! 

 All of these things have meant that we have had a wonderful week. We did the usual things - I got a couple of walks in -one around a lake near us. I did some gardening-there is more to do, as always.

I made some beetroot relish, and also some lemon and passionfruit cordial. I harvested a few grapes from one of the vines, but the grapes haven't been great this year. We think we will need to do some work on the reticulation in autumn -there doesn't seem to have been enough water for the fruit as they are splitting before they are ripe. 

I have been working in a patchy fashion (hah!) on my quilt. I spread the blocks on the bed and realised that I was going to need to have a border on this one. That will keep me busy for a while!