Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Working Through the (Dust) Storm



Despite the sky turning a 'mustard yellow' due to a dust storm yesterday, described by Josephine - the Tale Peddler, our garden mulching extravaganza continued.  Right into the afternoon, we carted and distributed wheelbarrows of euc-y mulch.  It always strikes me that before one job can be done, garden bed preparation has to be paramount. In our garden, you don't just lay a mulch covering; firstly, you pull larger weeds, poison smaller shoots, wait till said weed shoots turn yellow, carry a bucket and tongs to collect various sizes, textures and ages of dog-poop, move a variety of garden artwork (as in our Emma's face above, attached to the willow tree) and sometimes - even transfer plants to different locations BEFORE scooping on the thick layers that will serve and protect the plants during prospective summer droughts.  And as the day ambled on, we sang many a ditty like "Oom Pa Pa" amongst others from Oliver Twist, as the rain soaked our clothes and hair, but never dampened our enthusiasm.

"Mulching the garden before the heat is like buying presents long before Christmas", I declared to the garden supplies lady, who wore a quizzical brow. "It is so accomplishing..."

And today?

Today was an 'indoor' day, the house being warm and cozy, thanks to the last dregs of logs in the woodshed, courtesy of the Machinist and Samuel-son, who spent many days cutting and chopping in blistery winds...

Thoughts on Earlier Days

My thoughts of late have been towards the plight of the migrant.  Leaving England as a child and migrating to South Africa, was far different to leaving South Africa and migrating to Australia as an adult and parent.  Although many people live in places where climate and weather patterns are extreme and where  creatures and 'odd' traditions are commonplace, it is nonetheless overwhelming for some migrants, who have lived "protected" lives away from such things. To leave one's family and move to a strange land is traumatic enough. To face additional conditions which are shocking and dangerous can sometimes lend a migrant to utter despair

While in South Africa, if there was a snake around our homestead,  I would be the first to discover the snake. It was a known and accepted fact in our family. Rinkhals, cobras, mambas, puff adders and boomslangs. I've 'met' them all! And each time, mam would calm me down after the encounter, even though she herself was just as afraid.


In the dry creeks of the farms we lived on, we also encountered legavaans - similar to the monitor lizard, that become quite angered for no reason, it seemed.



One swish of their tail would put those of a slighter build on their back. Deadly scorpions would sometimes leave the rocks of the dry creek beds and venture into the brick crevices of the old farmhouses. My brothers would catch them and tease them. I still shudder thinking of the way their tails would curl over and twitch, ready to strike!  I am still wary of opening a box of matches which may be hanging around the house, because of what may be inside.

I can't help but wonder in awe at the enduring spirit of the earlier migrants, who ventured on - despite many hardships which our modern day systems could now overcome. In the Australian outback there are numerous graves, belonging to unfortunate folk who were bitten by some strange creeping or slithering creature, unable to either reach hospital care on time or receive efficient care or antidotes. There are those graves hosting folk whose constitution just couldn't cope with extreme climatic conditions either. Especially the finer ladies and children.  (A recent movie I enjoyed was "Jessica" - based on a novel by Bryce Courtenay - depicting the difficult life of early Australians).

And those who did survive have now become the great-grandmothers of our relatively young nation. Their letters and memoirs are recorded in our history books. I wonder if it ever crossed their minds that they would be instrumental in forming the grand nation we have today.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Plumber and the Gardener



This is the Machinist, working on the plumbing in the ladies toilets at the Shop.  It's the first time he's ever had to do any plumbing himself, but being a man who can figure things out, he can't help but have a go at almost anything with "trade" attached.



For more updates on what the Machinist and our family have been doing at the Shop, take a peep here.



This is an area of my office and I'm not *game* to show you the rest at this time.  It is a hive of planning and preparation and LOTS of paperwork.



While the Machinist has been busy plumbing, I've been busy carting this woodchip off the back of the ute, in an effort to lay mulch on the garden beds before its too hot



A view of the herb bed, emerging from its winter's rest, waiting to be mulched and planted. 





Curious hens, waiting to see the results of the BIG MULCH -


Friday, 18 September 2009

Get the Buzz

Cutting the Machinist's hair is a nerve wracking experience. Ladies, never, ever cut an Engineer's hair. He will measure it to the milimetre. He will haul out his micrometer to check the accuracy of the layers. 

The Machinist says his hair looks like that of a cartoon character. He won't say which one.


I know now why they call them 'buzz cuts'.

Hmmm... could he mean Buzz Lightyear?

Vinca Major: Major Problem

Every time I hear the word "Periwinkle", I think of Miss Marple's cardigan.  It leaves me with pleasant thoughts of charming, peaches-and -cream old ladies in quaint country villages.  Not this type of periwinkle, though:


Although beautiful to look at with a multitude of homeopathic uses, this type of vinca major is a tenacious, Australian-classifed weed. And we have plenty of it under the old lichen covered Granny Smith apple tree, thank-you very much. So much so, that it was climbing it's way up towards the new spring blossoms, at a menacing pace, threatening the season's prospective fruit crop. It had a faithful blood plum in it's sights, too.
I will go root away The noisome weeds which without profit suck The soil's fertility from wholesome flowers - William Shakespeare
We tugged at long tentacular vines.  We dug clumps of young periwinkle from the garden path.  And then... oh yes! and then, we brought out the Wippersnipper.  Thick glossy leaves flew through the air.  Long stringy stems wound themselves in coils and purple flowers disintigrated, - soggy and shrunken. 

"Ma, ma, I've got snail livers all over me.  Just look at this - massacred sluggy bodies on my skin.  Euwww"

A promise of a trip to the movies was met with much alacrity and there was no more talk of molluscan kidneys and giblets.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A Day in the Life of the Machinist's Wife

Get up at 5.50am

Decide to go back to bed at 6.15am

Wake again at 7.55am

Have early morning tea with the Machinist - (him - flat white coffee - me - Rooibos tea)

Put on a load of washing

Transfer 'smalls' to tumble dryer (phobia about hanging knickers on line)

Hang larger items of clothing on washing line while puppies jump up on the back of my legs.  Start looking for fallen pegs in the wet soil / grass below the washing line. (a result of hurried young adults and / or mischievous puppies pulling washing - and pegs - off the line)

Start pulling weeds out of Sarah's garden bed (near washing line).  Notice that the majority of rogue greenery is not weeds, but rather - self rooted valerian. "...It spreads as bad as the catmint, mam..."

Mid-morning coffee with the family at the kitchen table.

Go up to the Shop to assist in raising the exhaust hood into the ceiling cavity.  Witness a lot of shouting and directing, due to the sheer weight and degree of difficulty in getting the exhaust hood in said ceiling cavity.  Ask Grandpa if he would ask Grandma to make some sandwiches for a bunch of loud rebel raisers (the Grands are always wanting to help us in some way).

Have lunch with the Grands: cup o' soups, toast, boiled eggs, cheese, pickles, fruit tea and coffee.  What a delight!

Go home and start weeding the garden at the front of the house.  Azaleas, hellebores, Solomon's prayer, Daphne.  Weed around garden seat.  Set up two terracotta pots at each side of garden seat. Weed around front courtyard - banksia roses, more Daphne, snow-in-summer, photinias, phlox, dwarf Irish strawberry tree.

On the Machinist's request go up to the Shop again to check out the exhaust hood now fully bolted to the ceiling beams.  "Look, Babe, no props!"

Return home.  Cart wheelbarrow of weeds to the back of side paddock (where the Grandfather Brown Snake lives.  Note: it's still winter).  Machinist finds a heap of cut logs, so assist him in cutting more wood for fires. 

Help the Machinist cut a pile of unwanted hardwood beams ex-Shop from the back of his ute, in the light from the Workshop.  (It's handy having lots of hand tools on hand! Circular saw, waiting wheelbarrow).

Take pile of cut wood to the Grands "...we have two logs for tonight, Helen, but nothing to start the fire with tomorrow, and we light the fire early..."

Return home.  Order curry and rice from the Bushranger Hotel across the road (Tuesday = Curry Night = A huge BLESSING).  

Update blogs and research while the Machinist watches Biker Build Off. 

"Ok, Machinist, I'm coming to bed now"

Goodnight All!