garden

The Edible Garden

I live on a reasonably big piece of land, one and three quarter acres. We have a house, with a lawn in the front yard , and another one at the back yard. There are lots of trees (over 45, not entirely sure how many in total), and there is a lot of land with nothing much planned by us, more by planned by Nature.

I wouldn’t want to live in a totally landscaped place, and given that we moved out to Redbanks, in the northern Adelaide Plains, to breed dogs, it was never important. We don’t do the dog breeding anymore, we just have Missy, who was a show dog when she was a baby puppy, and never since. Missy is a pet dog, and she is happy with that role. She is the queen of the dog sofa, and rules her world while reclining regally there.

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Missy has two areas where she can run – the backyard, with its yummy grass which she likes to eat sometimes, and the ‘dog run’ with kennels, where supposedly dogs were supposed to live. That project never really happened, our dogs have always been pets first, show dogs second. The kennels aren’t used now at all, but we’ve begun planting in the dog run, and it’s turning into a pleasant area.

We have a mandarin tree there, and this year we had our first crop of mandarins, which were far better than I’ve ever had from a store! (I may be a little biased on this subject) We also have a vegetable patch where at the moment we have garlic, chocolate mint, coriander, spring onions, baby spinach, and lettuce growing.

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There may be something else, oh yes, parsley.  These are growing in two garden beds, set up higher than the ground, and are in an area where Missy can’t eat them. Missy likes her vegetables, but we grow them for the people of the house, not the dog!

We also have two almond trees, which were already there when we moved in, back in 1988. These almond trees are a little bit higher than is useful – if they were pruned, it would be easier to get bird netting in place, and maybe then we’d be able to eat our own almonds again. I don’t mind the cockatoos getting a good feed of nuts though, not really, I suppose …

What else is edible here? Well, there’s the weeds of course. Weeds are simply plants that Nature grows for us. Some of what Nature grows is wanted, but some things not so much. But if we learn to use the good things from Nature, we can learn to appreciate these plants rather than hate and destroy them.

Weeds we have that are edible include Marshmallow weed, nettles, dandelions, and who knows what else. The cockatoos like to eat the pine nuts from our stand of pine trees at the front of our place, and various birds like to visit our Bottlebrush trees,

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and the Cape honeysuckle, when they are flowering.

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garden, Uncategorized

Why Gratitude is a Good Thing

I sometimes do a week of thanking Nature, and the world, for the good things in my life. Things like gentle breezes, flowers, trees, the lovely night sky (I live in the country), yummy fruit and vegetables. Feeling grateful for the good things in life is a fine meditative thing to do, much healthier for your mind than focusing on the bad things.

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Missy, our dog, is another thing I will usually put on my list of things, although some of the things she does certainly don’t get on my ‘gratitude’ list. If you’ve ever had a sight hound, you may have an idea about the unlovely things our lovely dog sometimes does. There’s no need for me to go into that here.

 

I am grateful for her though, and I’m especially grateful for all of the lovely birds that love around where I live. We have ones that most Australians would have, Magpipes, Sparrows, Starlings. We also have two different kinds of Honeyeaters, Crows, Murray Magpies, two kinds of Miners, and many others.

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I have a list of the different kinds of birds that I have seen at my place. I’ve been working on this list for around twenty years, and I currently have around 45 different birds on the list. I live in country South Australia, about sixty kilometers north of Adelaide. We in a little townette, called Redbanks, on one and three quarter acres of land, with farmland on all sides of the town.

On our property we have around fifty trees and bushes over 2 metres tall, eucalypt trees, pine trees, a couple of citrus trees, and lots of others I don’t know the names of. There are different flowers at different times of the year, for birds to feed on, or for insects which also provide food for the birds. In am grateful for the trees, the flowers, even the insects because the birds can feast on them.

Feeling grateful for things, is so much healthier for a person than feeling angry about things, or despondent, or annoyed. There are things that annoy me, or otherwise are not things to be grateful for, but thinking too much about those things is a bad thing, not a good thing. It has been proven that positive thinking has good effects on a person’s health. I’m a believer in following good scientific studies, and I feel I am proof of the benefits on focusing on the positive in life.

As I have talked about on another of my blogs, where I talk about my life with Multiple Sclerosis. Talking about these things, and sharing the good things about my life with MS can help to remind me about how well I’m doing with this disease, and it can also give other people inspiration to find ways to be grateful about the good in their own lives too.

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philosophy

My Spiritual Site

Our backyard seems to be the place I can go to, to find peace and a sense of secular spiritually. I am not a believer in any god, but a believer in the all mighty power of Good. When I go out of our back door, I am at one with Nature, which is my symbol of the greater good.

Outside are the plants we grow for food (herbs, fruit, vegetables) and for enjoyment (flowers, lawn, greenery). Outside is the big blue or clouded sky, and the huge trees that bring the birds I love to watch. And further, beyond the backyard is the rest of our property, and all of the rest of our township we’ve lived in and loved for over thirty years.

When I sit outside on that sofa that once upon a time was our ‘good’ sofa, I think about lots of different things, or sometimes I meditate and think about absolutely nothing. Whichever end of the thinking spectrum I am at, I know it will be good. I also go outside sometimes to do a secular salute to the sun. I did one of these this morning. I will explain how I did this today, which is similar to how I usually do it.

Today I let Missy outside, then swapped my slippers for my rubber boots, and went and stood on the concrete path and looked up toward the sun. Then I held both arms out behind myself with my palms facing upward, before holding that position and sinking into a squat. I held that squat for about ten seconds then rose slowly, finishing with my hands in a ‘prayer position’ in front of my chest. I repeated that entire routine, I think five times and then Missy and I came back inside. I think both of us benefited in various ways from it.

I’m trying to live as mindful a life as I can, and with the mindfulness and meditation, combined with the wonderful family and friends I have, my life is a joyful one too! My simple life brings me much joy indeed. Do you find joy in your life? I’d love to hear about how you do it, leave a comment here!

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growing your own

Growing Our Own

We love mandarins in our household, as I’m sure many households do. They’re usch neat packages from Nature, wrapped up and ready for us. We love them so much, a couple of years ago, Graham, the main gardener in our house, bought a mandarin and planted it. He’s been looking after it well, watering the plant, and putting down mulch to conserve the water.

By the way, he’s been using shredded waste paper for the mulch, and it seems to be doing the job well. It’s a far better thing to do with paper, than burning or throwing it away, that’s for sure. Last season, we had flowers on the bush, and some tiny little green fruit began growing, but they all fell off, and never made it to possible eating stage. I think the tree was the victim of a run of hot weather.

This year the mandarin is going along better, it’s made it through the summer without suppering from too much heat, and the tiny little mandarins that came from the flowers grew, and grew, and grew. Some of them are still growing, but they’re hanging in and getting bigger all of the time. Mandarins are changing colour, from green to orange, slowly headed for sweet loveliness!
IMAG0309Looking at the photo, you can see some of the fruit is turning from green to orange, hooray! I can see I think six of the mandies in this photo. I’ve been counting and recounting them, but I’m not sure how many there are. Sometimes I could see 18, other times I’ve counted up to 21 lovely mandarins. It doesn’t really matter how many there are, but I count them anyway. Humans are strange like that, I don’t really know why.

If anyone has ideas about this, please leave a comment, I’d love to discuss the matter. Is it greed-related perhaps? Wanting to have lots of good things?

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birds in garden, Uncategorized

My Weather, Beautiful, not Crazy

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Today I had one task I had to complete, and am glad to say, the job is done, and well done! What was my successful task? Well, all I had to do was to water the potted plants in the backyard, including this jade tree in a pot. This involves letting Missy our into the backyard, to run around, sniff things, and do what she had to do. If she does what she had to do, it was my task to deal with that in the usual way (pooper scooper).

So yes, Missy and I went outside, into different parts of the the garden – Missy sniffing thing, running around a little, and mostly having a fun doggy time (and yes, pooper scooper duty promptly done). Once that was done, I switched on the tap, which has a hose attached to it, then I look the hose fitting to spray the things that needed to be watered.

There are flowering things, herbs, strawberry plants in hanging baskets, and a variety of different plants in different stages of life (or in some cases, death). When you have a garden, it’s almost inevitable there will be wonderful instances of rebirth, but also deaths of things that will never regrow. I thing our two tiny little olive trees in teeny little bonsai pots are in the never to be reborn group., victims of too little water and too much heat in pots that are too small.

We have plenty of more olive trees though, popping up all over our property, compliments of the birds that eat our olive fruit, and deal with the seeds in the usual, natural way. I saw one of the strawberries was looking ready, but before I got too excited about eating a homegrown fruit, I saw that a bird had been there before me and took a bite out of it. It didn’t seem anywhere near as yummy then … I’m thinking of how I can rig up something to stop the birds from eating our strawberries. Graham brought strawberries home from the shop recently, but they don’t taste anywhere near as good as our home frown ones taste …

We have some shade cloth and I’m sure I should be able to fashion some kind of shelter from some of that. I have to check with the chief gardener first though, he may have some other plan in mind for it. I don’t really mind sharing our produce with the birds, after all, I get lots of enjoyment when I can sit outside on the comfy sofa there, watch and listening to the birds … The birds are happy, and I’m happy. Of course Missy is happy when and if she can catch one of the birds to eat, which doesn’t make me anywhere near as happy, even though that too is a natural thing … Nature isn’t all flowers and sweet things …

So that’s it, I’ve got a meeting coming up later this afternoon, and I’ll hand the house back to Graham when he gets home again soon. Missy and I have enjoyed being the in charge of everything ones this morning, and I get to be the in charge of everything person, at the writers group meeting later! I love my life, sunshine, happiness, loved ones, friends, and lots of birds flying all around! Oh, and Missy too, of course!

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philosophy

Philosophical Meanderings of My Mind

This post Christmas/New Year season has become a sit around and do not much time. Today is Sunday, and I’m usually in Gawler in the late morning on Sundays, doing a poetry workshop with another person, or other people, but that isn’t happening today, so the first session for 2018 is more likely to happen next Sunday instead. I hadn’t planned that, but in not planning it, I was probably subconsciously planning it not to happen. I don’t/can’t know for sure, and it doesn’t matter, really, I don’t think.  I’ve had some outside time, and am now inside again, at home, and happy with that, even though it’s just a small thingmissy slightly bemused.
Staying home today, the only poetry written, if any, will be done here, with the cricket on TV and radio as the background for the day … And trips outside of course, as requested by Missy. Missy is currently lying on her sofa, looking extremely comfortable, eyes closed, ears erect, but not active … I just slapped the sofa next to me, and her eyes opened, eats turned to me, then away, and she rolled over and now has her back to me and my silliness. She’s not huffy at me, just not that interested in what I’m doing. That’s fine, we have our own lives, to some extent, the humans and the dog, and we’re enjoying our lives, together or separate.
Out of the window on my left I can see clouds, grass, plants and birds, all doing their own natural thing, obeying the rules of Nature, which make more sense to me than some of the rules of the cricket … With Nature, there is no appeal to a higher authority, because if Nature says it is so, then it is. If something other that humans were expecting, it means Nature wasn’t using the rule we thought was being used. Science may find the answer, people may think they have the answer. Much may be written, thought on, argued over, but Nature will just continue on, and we must manage as best we can, with whatever Nature and mankind do next …
There were sparrows outside, on the front lawn, about ten minutes ago, when I started writing this post. I can’t see any now, but I’m sure there are certainly lots of sparrows out there, back yard, front yard, in the trees and bushes and just everywhere. Sparrows are very successful occupants of our world. They have their needs, and seem to be able to fulful those needs well. The sparrows I saw earlier seemed to be adolescents, not quite up to adult size, and I’ve been noticing such not quite adult sparrows, and thinking about what they get up to, boy and girl sparrows, getting on with their lives, boy groups, girl groups, boys sparrows seemingly crashing into the girls groups, while girl sparrows flitter away, only to be followed and annoyed by the boy sparrow.
I’m quite likely putting my own interpretation on these actions of the sparrows, and could well be getting it entirely wrong. I’ve written a haiku about these matters previously, and it’s in my poetry collection “Tense and Still”, where I wrote about various creatures I see in my life, whether our dogs, cats I’ve seen, known, imagined, or those wild creatures I come across in my life or my travels or in my imaginings.
Thinking about these things whether I uncover the truth or not, helps me to gather ideas, things to think about can lead to things to write about, and writing about things is the thing I do. I am a writer, a poet, a blogger. Words are my tools, and I love to use these tools in the many different ways possible to use them. Poetry is my favourite method, certainly preferred over writing a novel, because of course a poem can be thought on, written, edited and published very quickly. A novel takes so much longer to complete. I have one of those ‘in progress’ at the moment, but I have a strong suspicion this novel will make only very slow progress, because I’m allowing myself to do many things other than the writing of this novel …
above the fish pond
I know being a novelist isn’t really a title I feel fits with me, the way being a poet does. The longer form of literature feels too unwieldy perhaps for me to handle. I know how to put together and publish a poetry collection, and how to market it. A small book of poetry can be printed in small numbers, and sold in small numbers, and small numbers of people get a little book of my poems to read and think about. It will never make me rich or particularly famous, but that’s fine. Money and fame are not what I write for, I write for my own amusement, and the small amounts of money/fame I gain while nice to have, will never be the major thing.
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poetry, Uncategorized

Ants on My Mind

Yes I have ants on my mind at the moment. And no, of course I don’t have real ants inside my head! I have been thinking about ants a lot though, and further thinking about writing a picture book about the ants I’ve been thinking about.

These antsy thoughts were prompted by all of the ants that go past me when I’m outside sitting on the sofa we have on the back veranda. If I look down on the veranda, there are lots of ants, going to the left and the right, with some heading off in other random directions. Most of them seem to be going either toward or away from wherever their home is, which I think is to the left of me, away from the backyard, further away, but still on our property.

I see ants carrying dead things, and these are always heading to the lift, so I assume they’re taking food back to their home. I don’t really know a lot about how ants live, whether it’s mainly one gender who do the work, or if they all do. I think I’ll have to look further into this, I could get ideas for the picture book. If I’m writing for children, I want to get the facts correct, that’s important.

The ants I’m watching are mid-sized ants, not the little ones, and certainly not inch ants. These ants could bite, if I got in their way, I guess, but they’re not troublesome to us in any way. I suspect we’re more troublesome to them. Sometimes I see ants trying to pick up one of their comrades who’s been trodden on by people or dogs. I feel sorry for those poor dead ants, but I can only try to not tread on them, no guarantees I won’t do it, and I can’t prevent others here from doing it, the dogs and my husband wouldn’t care …

I have this idea of being a secular Buddhist, and while there is much I don’t know about Buddhism, I think not killing other creatures is a relevant concept. I don’t like killing things anyway, and I try not to, if I’m paying proper attention. I don’t massively swerve around things on the road when I’m driving at high speed though, killing myself wouldn’t be a good thing to do … and I have this silly fear that if I drove over a brown snake on purpose, trying to kill it, it could somehow get inside the car with me, and bite me …

Anyway, these ants … I need to write some more pages, at the moment I have potentially 18 pages done, if the set up of the book is to have one line to a two page spread. I need more than that. And I need something whizz bang clever/funny/amazing to wrap the whole book up. I don’t have any ideas on that part yet. I think I’ll get the research done first, so I don’t waste my time, when actually knowing more could actually hand me the perfect ending … Sitting and watching ants is fine, but understanding more on what they’re doing would be better.

I’ve written a little bit about ants, poetry, one of the poems in my poetry collection about creatures in my life has a funny poem, where an ant provides the punch line. This is the poem, I think I may read this one at a funny poetry event I’m attending Thursday night.

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A lesson learnt

 

The little boy pulls down his pants

with no regard for decency

or any good reason, I can see;

he aims a stream at toiling ants.

 

Panic disrupts the ordered dance

and causes much unbridled glee

at such confusion caused by pee.

But one small ant sees a chance,

 

it latches on to one small toe.

Giggles then rise high to screams.

Boy shakes his foot to make it go,

ending all his urine schemes

of treating insects thus, and so

a needed lesson’s learnt, it seems.

 

No actually, I need a poem that will take up to two minutes to read, and a practise reading just them only went for one minute, which is nowhere near enough time. I’ll have to go back to my original thoughts on which funny poem to read … I hope I can find it …

Do you like rhyming poetry? I find I write rhyming poetry more when I’m trying to be amusing, and write non-rhyming with more serious poetry. I’d love to know how others feel about these things … Please leave a comment!

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