Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Greatest Wisdom

Please note I have edited this post as I actually misquoted Akhenaton. Not intentionally. It was just an an old fashioned typo. I have corrected the quote to read he that increases his riches increaseth his cares, I originally had he who increases his wisdom increases his cares. My apologies.

To be satisfied with a little is the greatest wisdom,
And he that increases his riches increaseth his cares;
But a contented mind is a hidden treasure,
And trouble findeth it not.

Monday, 28 November 2016

What Sherri Did - in Movember 2016

Sorry about the pun.

With modeling, you pose. You want to look your best all the time. With acting, you have to be aware of the camera, but the more you show your imperfections, the better you're going to be. ~  Diane Kruger

Don't be fooled by this lark they call acting folks. Do you need talent? No. Do you need a great memory in order to be able to remember your lines? No. Do you need youth, looks, or connections. Definitely not.

All you need to become an actor is a really, really, really, easily amused audience. 

Do you remember that Jo March and her sisters in Little Women enjoyed putting on theatricals? Well looking back on my life it is amusing to remember the number of amateur theatricals I was roped into from my teenage years on. I cannot sing, recite, play an instrument or indeed act. But there you are, if life has decided you have a certain role to play you will be cast. 

Anyway let's move on to what I have done during November.

In General

I have been spending less working  time in the garden and more time working  indoors.  November arrived with little rainfall, spring heat waves and hot dry winds. So my time spent in the garden has been for the most part allocated to watering, trying to help plants survive. We did have a storm move quickly through on one Sunday. It brought fierce winds and a little rain. The winds broke off tree limbs and in some areas nearby uprooted trees . About a week after this storm I found and buried a dead goanna that I assume was killed during the earlier storm.

When I found the dead Goanna I raced to tell my husband.
He told me to bury it. So I did.
 (Though  I did think he would offer to do the job for me 😒)

Saturday just gone provided us with 63 mls of rain, which watered the garden aplenty, topped up the water tanks and added a bit more water to the dam.

Indoors I have continued de-cluttering by sorting out household records. I have been 'filing' current records and shredding old records that are no longer needed.

Establishing a new household routine takes time and some experimentation. This has been true with us and we are still 'recalibrating' in this area.

Current craft projects 

Crochet - making a throw rug for the back of the lounge
Knitting - Ah, my neglected knitting. I made a mistake in my knitting some weeks ago and put it aside in  a fit of chagrin. I have now returned to my knitting and I am trying to work some knitting time into my weekly routine. With 'trying' being the operative word.
Embroidery - I have a small table cloth project that I have not worked on in ages. Now that the hot weather has returned I am hoping to spend some time working on it on Saturdays during the heat of the day.

Thrifty activities for the month 

Added grass clippings from orchard to compost
Used beetroot we harvested from garden as a side dish
Moved the leftovers to the top shelf of the fridge so we could see them.
Created weekly menu plans
Checked out the weekly grocery specials and added some of them to my shopping lists
Made my own fruit and nut mix for afternoon tea snacking.
 Line dried all the washing
Added our fruit and veggie scraps to the compost tumbler.

The Dam taken just before the rain came. The ridge in the middle is now
under water.

What I have been reading

On the morning of the second Sunday in October I managed to sit and read the Courier Mail's Qweekend magazine. This is something I have not managed to do for months, but as the weather is now hot, I find myself slowing down and enjoying some Sunday morning reading. This particular Sunday morning was hot and humid. By 10:00 a.m., though the temperature was only  hovering around the 26 Celsius mark, the humidity was such that the simple act of moving the garden sprinkler from one spot to the other left me with sweat running down my face. Yuk.

Anyhoo, I enjoyed reading the Qweekend magazine and I savored the reading, pausing to mull over different points. At this juncture I would like to make mention of my two mates - Cassidy and Sundance - who like to let me know they are about by performing aerial acrobats around my head. And by 'around', I mean they fly within a whiskers of my head. On this morning one skimmed over the top of my head and a couple of moments later the other did a 'roll over' fly by just skimming past the side of my face.  Neither of them touched me and their accuracy is awe-inspiring - but does anyone out there know if Butcher birds aerial capacity and eyesight deteriorate as they age?

What I have been watching

I finished watching series four of House of Cards during the month.  The end of the last episode left me with goose-bumps.

I am still working my way through the River Cottage DVD's and the BBC documentary called How to Live a Simple Life.

Best of the web

 How is this for a great idea, covering shoes with fabric using mod podge.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Ladder of Thrift

"Frugality and Economy are Virtues without which no household can prosper. The necessity of economy should be evident to every one, whether in possession of an income barely sufficient for a family's requirements, or of a large fortune which seems to put financial adversity out of the question. We must always remember that to manage well on a small income is highly creditable. "He is a good waggoner," says Bishop Hall, "that can turn in a little room. To live well in abundance is the praise of the estate, not of the person. I will study more how to give a good account of my little than how to make it more." In this there is true wisdom, and it may be added that those who can manage small things well are probably fitted for the management of greater." ~ Isabella Beeton

Some years ago I clipped a picture from I know not where. The picture was a reproduction of "The Ladder of Fortune to the American Dream."  In the foreground the illustration shows a ladder leaning against a tree which was laden with yellow and orange round fruit.  Each rung of the ladder is labelled and reads from bottom to top; Industry, Temperance, Prudence, Integrity, Economy, Punctuality, Courage, and Perseverance. The side rails of the ladder are labelled Morality and Honesty. Each one of the fruits of the tree carries a name; Influence, Honor, Contentment, Happiness, A good conscience, The favor of God, Long life, Riches, Reputation, Self-Respect, Good will to men, and Success.

These trees also bear fruit

Looking at this illustration motivated me to consider what the rungs of my own ladder  might look like if I created a ladder of thrift.  Remembering that Thrift carries the meaning of exercising wisdom and caution in the management of money; I decided that each of my rungs would be named:


The side rails of my ladder would be named:


The fruit of my tree  would carry the same names as the fruit in the original illustration, with the addition of providence and serendipity.

What about your ladder of fortune or thrift  - what behaviours would you label each of your ladder rungs and side rails? 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Upgrading The Side Fence

The side fence before the upgrade.

"We cannot do everything at once but we can do something at once." ~ Unknown

Don and our neighbour recently set out to sort out the problems with our side fence. There were trees growing up against the fence and over hanging it. Some of the fence posts were rotting or eaten out and had become out of alignment over the years. The fence itself was only three lengths of wire running between the posts. The wire had lost its tension over the years.

First came the clearing up of the neighbours side of the fence. 

There was quite a lot of regrowth on the neighbours side.
And the area needed quite a bit of leveling.

These were used to make the strainers.

The new fence posts were laid out ready.

More fence posts laid out ready. 

The finished fence, facing north. The three strand wire has now
been replaced with dog wire with barbed wire on the top.

This photo is taken from the same spot but facing south.

The Neighbourly Gate

The Neighbourly Gate is located right at the back end of the new side fence. It was installed to reduce travel by half a kilometer between our property and two other neigbouring properties. The gate is overlooking two driveways, one neighbour is yet to add their gate opposite to ours. The gate at the back of our property is facing the front of theirs. They drive their Gator when calling in to visit as their house is located right down the other end of their property.  

Friday, 18 November 2016

The Gardener's Nook

Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804 -1864

I don't know about you but I do need a place to sit down quietly, and rest from my labours in the garden. Several places actually, as I have a large garden and it is nice to have places to escape to out of the heat for a short breather.

We recently purchased a Jack and Jill chair with the intention of setting up a nice, relaxing garden seating area. I am a bit like Anne Shirley when it comes to giving places and areas names, and so have given this area the name of  "Gardener's Nook." Over time I will add bits and pieces to this area. One or two screens, some pot plants, cushions for the chairs, and so on. Currently the area is a bit bare.

This is the west facing view.

This area overlooks the garden area I am in the process of developing. And looking straight ahead into the background area I can view the orchard. Looking to the left is another garden area and beyond the gardens is the dam. To the right is a large water tank which blocks the afternoon sun from the Gardener's Nook.

This is looking straight ahead and beyond into the orchard.

Both this garden area and the Gardener's Nook will be transformed over time. I look forward to sharing the changes with you.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Hallow The Fiftieth Year.

"I am no longer just passing through the world, but digging deep and collecting moments'  ~ Joan Anderson, A year by the Sea.
I reached a milestone earlier this year. I turned 50. Helen Keller once wrote 'One should never count the years - one should count one's interests." However I am happy to count the years and  I am grateful to have reached this age as a couple of years ago it seemed unlikely that I would. So to me this fiftieth year is indeed hallowed.

In 2014 I undertook my healing journey. Not able to work for a year, I rediscovered who I was and what I valued.

In 2015 I returned to work and found once again I had to undertake an unspeakably hard challenge as I re-entered the workforce. I won't go into details as to why it was so hard returning to work, as I want to try and keep focused on the positive.

So 2016 has been my Jubilee year. It has been much less challenging then the two preceding years. For much of the last 12 months I have taken the motto "It is what it is".  This motto has been very grounding for me and has helped me accept situations as they are, without regretting 'how they should be', as far as my opinion is concerned. 

Lately, though,  I have been feeling a stirring in my spirit. The desire to not just pass through the world as Joan Anderson wrote, but to dig deep and collect the moments. New and as yet hazy goals are appearing on the horizon of my thoughts. Glowing gently, yet persistent enough to keep invading my awareness…..

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Use and Value Diversity

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

One of the most straightforward ways of demonstrating the principle of using and valuing diversity in a property design is by incorporating a wide range of plants into the design. Diversity acts as an insurance measure.  If one crop fails due to say an explosion of pests, then a later ripening variety may still have the chance for harvest. 

Such diversity also builds soil fertility in a number of ways:

  • A healthy, diverse range of plants helps sequester carbon in the soil.
  • Plants release exudates through their roots. Exudates are secretions which attract microbes. (Incredibly there are more organisms living in a teaspoon of healthy soil the there are people on the earth.) In turn these organisms make nutrients available to plants.
  • Species diversity increases the organic in the soil which increases the soils water holding capacity which in turn attracts more macro-organisms.

A beetle grub. 

However introducing diversity into your own garden eco-system requires some careful planning and consideration, for example, what are the root structures – taproots, heart roots and flat roots take nutrients at different levels in the soil; some plants attract certain microbiota and others repel, so it is not just a matter of planting a few plants together.

   Taking this principle out of the garden and into the community we see people have a wide range of skills that can be utilised and passed on to others for the benefit of the whole community, aged people may be able to pass on knitting skills, and people of other cultural backgrounds may be able to demonstrate ways of producing more from less, which are common to their culture but not in familiar use in Australia.

In today’s working world it is important to keep gaining skills in order to provide opportunities but also to provide some insurance against unemployment. Having more than one income stream is another useful way of “not putting all your eggs in one basket.”

Systems diversity is also a form of insurance, local energy production can protect a community against power grid failure, alternatively household solar energy can provide an additional source of electricity.

Some ways I have incorporated the principle into my permaculture design are:

By including in my orchard a variety of apple trees so I can have a longer fruiting season.

Companion planting.

I have more than one water harvesting system. Tanks, swales and a dam. In future I would like to investigate the possibilities of including another dam, more swales, and a bore.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

On Being a Spendthrift.

"But it is perfectly clear that people who live from day to day without plan, without rule, without forethought--who spend all their earnings, without saving anything for the future -- are preparing beforehand for inevitable distress. To provide only for the present, is the sure means to sacrificing the future. What hope can there be for a people whose only maxim seems to be, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die"?"  ~ Samuel Smiles

The definition of spendthrift is a person who is reckless and wasteful with his money. I look back on my life and cannot see a time when I was reckless and wasteful with my income. Another definition is 'a person who spends all his savings'. Well I cannot deny that there have been times, many times, I have spent all my savings. It might have taken me a while to go through them, but go through my savings I have done, more than once. So there it is; I am  a person who has spent my thrift.

Like most working people I have been steady at earning money but have not always been so wise when it comes to economising and to thoughtful spending.  This is not a modern problem. This is a human problem. Cicero wrote "Not to have a mania for buying, is to possess a revenue." Well I have spent too freely. It is easy for my older self to condemn my younger self. But the point of power is in the present moment. So I need to keep improving with money management skills and for me that means improving my household management skills.

Home economics which I studied at school was about household management including cooking from scratch. Home economics has now become known in some parts of the world as family and consumer services.  So now days young people are being educated as consumers not as citizens. No wonder many people believe democracy is disappearing.

Advertising encourages us to be 'kind' to ourselves. We have worked hard, now is the time to reap the fruits of our labour. Rather than being duped into spending too much, economising helps  improve circumstances for our future selves.

A budget created with a view to creating savings will dispense with anything that is not essential. Waste is eliminated. Household items are re-used and re-purposed. Self-reliance such as in cooking from scratch and growing food help us to manage our house-hold economy.

Be wary of the  trap of bargain buying. It is easy to become carried away by bargain buying.  If there is no immediate use for an item it can hardly be considered a bargain. I once had a neighbour who was always buying bargains to fix. He never did fix these bargains and he became surrounded by unusable, unwanted, stuff. Even a bargain that is in perfect condition is money wasted if that bargain is never used.

 It is not the amount of income we earn but the amount of it we retain in savings that should be our concern. Now is the time to employ both good sense and good taste,  and hand the pink slip to the spendthrift within.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Growing Beetroot.

It has a natural affinity with game; ….I notice that as well as offering beetroot as a side vegetable, it was an integral part of many dishes that include guinea fowl, pheasant, rabbit, hare, pigeon and kangaroo.  - Maggie Beer  from Maggie Beer's Spring Harvest recipes.

In the sub-tropics beetroot (Beta vulgaris) can be planted from April to September (August to April in temperate areas and April to August in the tropics). They are best directly sown into the garden bed rather than transplanted as seedlings because there is less chance for the root to become damaged.  (Though I grew mine on from purchased seedlings.) The distance between plants should be from five to ten centimetres apart.  Row distance is about 20 centimetres apart, and seed depth is  a centimetre or slightly deeper.

As a root crop beetroot does not like to be over fertilised. Beetroot likes loose deep soil that has been amended with compost. I grew my beetroot in my raised keyhole garden bed which has lots of humus with good tilth. 

The beetroot plant is quite attractive. The red and green leaves are edible and are produced on deep red/burgundy stems. The leaves can be added to salads, or prepared in a manner similar to silver-beet. 

It takes between 56 to 70 days from the time of sowing the seed until the beets are ready for harvest. Generally beetroot are ready to harvest when the shoulders of the beets are protruding from the soil. Smaller beets have better flavour and they should be harvested before they become too large and fibrous or soft.

Options for using preparing them after harvest include baking, boiling them with sugar and vinegar, or if they are larger beetroot they can be preserved for later consumption. 

Companion plants are onions, broccoli, Brussels sprout, cabbages, and Swiss chard.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

In My Garden - November 2016

Can you see the nest?  It belongs to a Friarbird.

"A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them."  ~Liberty Hyde Bailey

I have now entered that time of year where I stop planting and just keep up the maintenance in the garden.  The gardenias are in bud and I am looking forward to their warm creamy fragrance when the flowers finally open. 

Sometimes during the heat of the day in late Spring and Summer, my husband and I drive down to the village to sit by one of the local rivers. It is lovely spot to simply sit and enjoy the cool breezes coming off the river. 

In the garden I  am having problems with one of my hibiscus shrubs. I am thinking I may have katydid's chomping on the leaves. The poor plant needs some nursing to bring it back to health. 

As the weather is heating up fruit fly is becoming more active and I need to set some fruit fly traps. I will be checking and discarding any fruit that has been stung.

I also need to buy and set some codling moth traps.

I feel the need. .... the need to weed. (Sorry to any Top Gun fans)

My mulberries finished last month, so I will summer prune the tree this month, cutting the new growth back by about a third.

I will be pruning the Callistemon and grevilleas that have ceased flowering. I will cut back the long shoots by about a third to promote bushiness.

I will check he banksias and grevilleas for iron deficiency (yellowing on growing tips) and treat any that need it with iron sulphate (a dessertspoon full in a 10 litre watering can.)

What's happening in your garden this month?