Friday, 16 March 2018

Growing and Changing


Hello and welcome. Pull up a chair and lets catch up, it's been too long. I'll put the kettle on and warm some scones.

Life has been ticking along here since I posted about zucchinis in my last blog post. The zucchinis are still growing and landing on the kitchen bench almost daily, and I'm happily keeping up with them. 
It's really quite incredible how many ways they can be included into our diet and we still haven't tired of them. In fact I'll be sorry to see the last of them, but I've preserved a number of jars of ratatouille with added onions, tomatoes and garlic for quick easy additions to meals during the winter.

 (Lightly fry sliced zucchini, onion and chopped garlic, add some sliced apple too if you want to, then add chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper. A small amount of kasoundi, marsala paste or chilli flakes added give a bit of depth to the flavour but is optional. Cook until it looks tender and ready to eat..then.. fill the mixture into your clean jars. Screw the lids on tightly. They must be metal lids. Stand in a large pot on a cake stand or similar so the jars are not touching the bottom of the pan. Pour in water until it reaches half way up the largest jar. It doesn't matter if the water covers the smallest jars and it's OK for the jars to touch each other. If the contents of the jars is still hot be sure not to pour in cold water or your jars will crack. Put the lid on the large pot, bring to the boil then turn down the temperature but it must remain lightly boiling for approx twenty to thirty minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the pot without removing the lid until next day. Check the lids are slightly concave, they have sealed. Store in a cupboard where they will keep for months or even years. Any that don't seal can be place in the fridge and eat within a week.)

It's terribly dry here. The vegetable gardens have water priority over the house gardens so the plants are looking quite sad with just enough water to keep them alive.

 The stone fruits have finished, (peaches, apricots and nectarines) but we're still picking tomatoes, capsicums, basil, lettuce, kale greens and beetroot, plus herbs... and zucchinis of course. The apples are ripening nicely, with these Jonathons the first to be bagged up and sold in the farmgate stall.
Brian has planted the first crop of brassicas; a few each of cabbages, cauliflower, and broccoli. He'll keep planting a few plants every month or so, and we will have a steady flow of these delicious winter veges right through until next summer.

 The plants are only just hanging in there.

By creating an illusion with green plants and trees at all entrances to the house I can cope with the dry season.

The courtyard/outdoor room.

 I find it difficult to believe that I've been retired (from paid outside work) for almost a year. I'm fascinated though at the way this past year has unfolded.
When I was employed three days a week I loved my days at home, busily doing all the things I wanted to do, and not wanting to go out anywhere on those 'home' days.
For the first six months of retirement, I had so many things I wanted to do here at home that I felt, pretty much, the same way about going out as I did when I was employed. Content to be at home in my own company.
So moving forward six months, I've caught up on lots of those tasks I wanted to get done, life is allowed to move a little slower, stress levels are as low as they could ever be (what's stress?) and now I actually enjoy going out, meeting friends, exploring new places and ticking off activities that were always there in my mind but never had the time or energy to do it.
The first year of retirement is a biggie for most people, where we learn how to manage our time, learn how to wind down, and discover new things about the way we think and the way we see things.
I still have a little work to do on myself about managing my time, or more specifically, being more disciplined with my time, but overall this life is not too bad. I can thoroughly recommend it in fact.
Everyone is different, and has different ways of looking at things. I'm gradually figuring out ways to balance my need for peaceful solitude with my social and people interactive needs.  Looking back now I can see how very tired I was, and my needs for solitude were much stronger then, than they are now.
It seems to me that our best years of life are spent in a constant struggle to achieve, and our tiredness levels are beyond measure. Believe me, looking back from where I now sit, it's as clear as day, but little do we realise this at the time, when we're in it, so to speak.

 Out and about with friends at Adelaide Writer's Week. I've always wanted to go, and at last I have the time and energy.

 Out and about with my bloke! At the Garden of Unearthly Delights; Adelaide Fringe Festival.

I've been a bit quiet on social media for the past couple of months, feeling the need to concentrate my energy on the here and now and to engage fully in my days and the people around us. Of course I still enjoy switching on my laptop a couple times a week to read about what my blogging friends are up to, but apologies for my lack of comments.

I did my best with entries in the local Angaston Show at the end of February and won a few prizes with jams, sauce and cordial.   However, without a lactating cow at present, my only entry in the dairy section was this matured cheese that I made early last year, but it won first prize and enough overall points to gain the trophy for "Most Successful" in the dairy produce section.  The entries were so few, sadly! 
A lovely $50 voucher donated by our local "Barossa Valley Cheese Co" which I can spend on their delicious prize winning gourmet cheeses. I think this kind of Trophy is much better than a thing to sit on the shelf and look at. 

I came very close to stepping on a Brown snake two days in a row. I think they were two separate snakes (one was much bigger than the other) which doesn't thrill me knowing there are TWO snakes hanging around the house! My main concern is for the dogs who both have a tendency towards attacking lizards and anything that crawls or slithers. The hay bale net wrap is placed strategically to trap any snakes who might slither through and I check it frequently in case a trapped lizard may need rescuing.  None so far, thankfully.
My tea cup is empty and the wind has whipped up bringing with it the smell of rain, or is it merely an illusion? A mirage perhaps, so desperate are we for a bit of rain.
I'll tell you about the cows next time.
Cheers, :-)
XX



                  

15 comments:

  1. Lovely to catch up with your news dear Sally! It hasn’t been dry hasn’t it? Did you get this afternoons rain?! I hope so. It smelled wonderful!

    Xx

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    1. Just a little bit of rain dear Emma. I hope you got some over your way. It would be so good to have a day off from hand watering.

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  2. I hope you've now had some rain, Sally. Terrible when it's so dry. Not seen a single snake here this Summer, though came close to two when out walking in National Park up at Noosa a while ago. Not browns though. Not seeing any snakes is unusual here so unsure where they've all got to but not unhappy about their absence (now I've said that I'll probably see one tomorrow!) Meg:)

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    1. Ha, yes you may have jinxed yourself Meg. This dryness is normal for this time of year here in SA, but it starts to get a bit tedious and thoughts of rain tend to give us 'jungle fever' ;-)

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  3. We too are looking for rain, it is so so dry and dusty. Interesting to read your thoughts on retiring. I had my last work day on Thursday. Right now I know it was the best decision. Like you, I was tired and, like you, I'm sure I will look back in a few months and realise just how so. I am so very much looking forward to newer adventures at home and out. Interesting read.

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    1. Congratulations of your retirement Brigie. It seems a big step at the time and I wonder how the first year will be for you. Lot of changes! Lots of new adventures to be had. :-)

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  4. Well done with your Show entries. I agree a voucher for cheese is a great prize!
    Love your insights into retirement. I only work 5 shifts a fortnight, and like you I love home, but I find even I have to be disciplined about time management, as I'm home more than I'm at work! It is so easy to fritter away the hours on less than productive things if you aren't careful. I cringe when I remember I've got another 20 years of paid employment ahead of me, particularly in my rapidly changing (with technology) stressful and physically demanding job as a Nurse, I know the day will come when I just walk away, a day when it all gets too much, but I will need another paid job to tide me over. How I wish I could get paid to stay at home...I wouldn't even expect a huge wage, just enough to cover the bills...le sigh.

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    1. Cheryl I can understand how the changes in your profession could be challenging. You are fortunate to work part time. From reading your blog I can see that your'e already putting things in place for your eventual time to step away from working. I have another five years to go before I can think about applying for even a part pension, but our lifestyle and simple living has made it possible for me to stop working. I do hope that everyone has the opportunity to reduce or stop their paid work when they reach their early sixties, but it can only happen with planning and preparation. Hang in there and keep up with the great work that you do at home and at work.

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  5. Oh Sally we had a baby brown (as deadly as the adult brown) get caught in one of the mouse traps we have set up in our garage (under main roof) where our car lives.
    Just a tad too close for comfort. Bob heard this banging and crashing and went to investigate. It was evening and the baby brown was after a skink. Both had crawled through the tiny space around the edge of the roller door. Yikes!
    Luckily we have a good door seal on the door connecting the garage to the house.
    Always a pleasure to read your posts 🤗

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    1. Oooh Merryl, did you send Bob out to deal with the snake while you hid inside? I often thought that if we had skinks we didn't have snakes, but that's a myth I know now because we have lots of dear little skinks too.

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  6. Sally I was asleep as it was 11pm and Bob was taking our furkid out for her last pee of the night and he heard all this noise. Thankfully he woke me to tell me because as it was caught in the mouse trap I would have picked up the trap the next morning. Bob dealt with the 25cm snake very carefully.
    I too was always told if you have sleepy lizards or blue tongue lizards or shinglebacks you will never have to worry about snakes. Well that has got to be a myth because we have lots of 'sleepys' and blue tongues and now we have snakes. We have a family of skinks living near our bathroom and sometimes we find them climbing over the outside of our bathroom window which is set higher up on the wall for privacy. Frightened the life out of me when I first saw one of them.
    There is a lesson here for all of us. Make sure you wear closed footwear whenever you go outside and keep your eyes open.

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  7. Sally, I'm guessing your wet weather arrives in earnest, during winter? We receive the most rainfall, during summer. Traditionally. That's changing, year to year now! ;)

    I've been through a few life-changing moments, lately too. First was realising we weren't going to have any more kids. I've always been fine with that, until my hormones started to change and remind me the clock is ticking! Then there was having my baby, start school this year.

    While not life-threatening, or even, what I would consider a crisis - it does require a recalibration of what you've known, to a new reality of what you don't! I need to be kind to myself during these moments, and not expect a quick solution. It sounded like it took you a good year, to find your new place of contentment.

    Congratulations on your prizes. And enjoy local cheese, made by someone else for a change. ;)

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    1. Thank you Chris. I think we're growing and changing constantly, sometimes those changes can be challenging but the key is how we deal with them.

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  8. Wow Sally, it looks very dry and hot. We moved from Adelaide in late spring to cooler climes and I must say I have not missed the summer. I did miss the Fringe festival though - always such a fun time of year to get out and about.
    Congrats on the show wins - a cheese voucher definitely sounds like my kind of trophy too.
    Hope your resident snakes make themselves scarce.
    Cheers,
    Laura

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    1. Did you move further south Laura? I went across quickly and looked at your beautiful blog. I can't wait to place you on my 'Blogs I read' list. :-)

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