Sunday, 28 February 2010

Windfarms

I have been to Port Augusta and back putting coreflutes up on stobie poles all the way.   So tired and so much to think about.
On Sunday, Chris (youngest son)  arrived for an open-ended visit....  busy time....  more tomorrow.

The most amazing views that I saw en route to Pt Augusta was the series of windfarms north of the Tothill Ranges...  these a unbelievable... and people hate them.  The noise is not the noise of the blades going around,  but the generators on the bottom.  These are the same size as a bus, and they sit on 400 tonnes of conrete taht will never be removed.  Farmers who have rented their fields out for the purpose have changed their minds about these structures....  hundreds of them,   unbelievable....
... and closer,  each one is enormous....

... notice the transmission pylons for the high voltage lines...  they are dwarfed by these huge towers... and that is an electrcity transmission pylon second from the right....

amazing!  These are near Burra, in my electorate and there are problems here.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Busy time during the election

Once again, it's been a busy couple of days... dinner has been beans and leftover vegetables in the pressure cooker... a sure sign of a lack of time and finances in the household...

Cleaning up in the yard today we found a possum....  it was really scared.  There are plenty of them around here and we hear them nightly....

... a beautiful animal....

... and it is safely up a tree now.

Tomorrow I will be putting coreflutes up in Eudunda, Pt Pass, Robertstown,  Burra, Hallett, Terowie, Peterborough, Orrorroo, Wilmington,  Stirling North and Pt Augusta.   I will be at a Regional Art Gallery meeting in Burra,  so the last half of the day will be delayed....   I may sleep over in Pt Augusta or thereabouts.  The corflutes/posters look like this....

The next day will be Pt Germein, Melrose, Wirrabarra, Booleroo Centre, Jamestown, Spalding, Booboorowie and Farrell Flat... then home again to the campaign launch to be held in the Wakefield Branch area.   Busy days!  Election time!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Mt Light

the Belladonna lilies are up all over the place...  also called Easter lilies or Naked ladies... lovely all the same....
,



Dinner tonight was made from left over salad from yesterday...  I dropped it all in with the beans, some extra garlic and salsa,  and we had beans on toast for dinner....

I was preparing dinner tonight,  and I looked at the different kind of kitchen that I work in.  The beans were on the wood stove and cooking, and I was washing up....
.... in this picture (below) you can see the kitchen sink and beneath it, are an assortment of bits of cooking equipment,  and the bucket (the metal Frytol one) to collect water in... the water pretty much grows our potatoes...  we do have plumbing,  but most of the water goes out in the bucket.


Stained glass
The next picture is of the stained glass above the front door... this was not a "trendy up-market" house... and this must have been the simplest and most humble stained glass panel ever made....  but I wonder what the original owners thought....  pretty trendy for Kapunda of the day...

I was doing a lot of cleaning up today and I came across this "half- finished" painting from some time ago....   I like it.  It is a painting of Mt Light, and it reminds me of Cezanne's paintings of the mountain near to his house...  here ... different,   but equally stylised.   He has other paintings of the same mountain that have the same geometric look to them too.
I made the painting from a sketch done several years ago....  Mt Light (below)... and this is an ink sketch done au pleine aire...  my favourite way to work....

Mt Light.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Cabernet and Merlot

We went to the Barossa today... to Peter Lehmann's for a car event.   It was a lovely day.
On the way home I stopped to show the local produce...  cabernet...
.... merlot...

... here is the vinyard....
.... acres and acres of it!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Corflutes

I have been out putting corflutes up for the state election... not my favourite job,  but someone has to do it!  So far these are all "generic" posters... 
Corflutes on electricity poles all over the place are really awful, and most people don't like them,  though there seems to be a consensus of opinion supporting their use.  
Some politicians go for the maximum cover... trying to be out first and occupying every legal spot there is...  I don't go along with that.  In fact I think that people find them annoying... my strategy is to put up the bare minimum to let people know that there is an alternative to voting for the usual suspects.  

Tomatoes

Today (Friday)  was the first day this year that I've spent processing tomatoes.  (I actually wrote this last night but only posted it this morning.)
I did show a picture of the tomatoes that I had bought on my way home from the city during the week.  A messy job, but has to be done....

Tomatoes need to be brought to 200F (my preserving thermometer is old,  and in Fahrenheit) over an hour.    That means taking an hour to get up to that temperature.  Then it needs to remain at that temperature for 15 minutes and the book (1950's vintage)  tells me to turn off the stove.  Since I can't do that I have to lift the whole pot... full of boiling water... onto the floor to stand for another hour.


.. and here they arre,  cooling on the kitchen  bench.


The tomatoes that were a bit mushy or needed to have some dodgy bits removed are also peeled,  blended and boiled down to about half the volume or less....

... this makes tomato  paste and I have four jars of that.  This still needs to be sterilised.
We also had tomato soup for tea.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Sunflower

I have just got home from a council meeting and it is late...  however this afternoon I took some photos in the garden.  Baby broccoli....should be ready to  eat in about June...

... cucumber flowers... better late than never....




...  an okra plant that has grown in the wrong row... among the Chinese broccoli....

and one of a couple of sunfowers that survived the earwig attacks of early spring.  There are two flowers that survived the onslaught and they are beautiful just now....

Monday, 15 February 2010

Lotus flowers in Adelaide and Roma tomatoes from Angle Vale

I knew that it was a few days since I'd put anything here.. I've been busy.  I hadn't realised just how long though!
The end of last week was taken up with the "Plains to Plate"  convergence.  This consisted of a series of workshops about the security of food for South Australia.  There was so much information,  and so many people with inspiring stories,  information and suggestions that, despite being a lot to take in,  it was a wonderful couple of days.  I didn't go to the opening evening event,  as it would have meant a huge amount of driving and/or extra cost of travel, accomodation and all of that,  but one of the talks from that evening is now available online an it is worth watching also...  in three parts....
The Food Forest (Graham and Anne-Marie Brookman's home/farm) is just a few km from us here,  and I have mentioned it previously... and it is the place where a few of us organised a "Transition Weekend"  some time ago.
Anyway,  I stayed in the city overnight and had to walk back across the Park Lands on Friday afternoon. I didn't have my camera with me,  so these photographs were taken with my telephone!   The lotus pond... I love drawing here and plan to go back in the next while,  while the flowers are so beautiful....
I have sat and drawn these leaves and flowers before...  amazing.  I don't know how long they'll last,  but I'll try to go back to Adelaide in the next week or so!

And there were  trees... all kinds in this part,  behind the botanical gardens....  a Moreton Bay Fig tree....


... and a River Red Gum....  a bit out of place,  but a beautiful tree.

These past few days have been exhausting,  and I have lots to think about and it is all good.  I bought some Roma tomatoes on the way back from Adelaide...  26kg.
I don't have enough for the winter, but these are bought locally and are very fresh.  We have just had a patch of hot weather, and so the farmers have to pick the glut of ripe fruit very fast...  and the price is good.  On Friday or Saturday I will be peeling and  bottling those.
The garden has been doing well and I have a few brassicas growing well... these should produce food in May/June.  I have a new patch of kale and some beetroot seeds coming up.   I picked a few tomatoes today,  and we are getting back to plenty after the hot weather... with the weather prediction suggesting that the temperature will be up around 40 again later in the week it will be interesting to see how the little plants manage.
These flowers are jsut coming out now too....  Easter lilies.  (Belladonna lilies)  though not so many this year....  I think it's a hard time for many plants lately.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Callouses and broken finger nails

It has been hot again today.  This gets rather monotonous to report on daily,  but it does have a great effect on the garden.  The routine on these days is to water the plants early,  pick anything that is worth the trouble, pull all of the curtains,  close windows and stay indoors, quiet,  until late in the day when the sun goes down and it is pleasant outside.... then is the time to open the doors and windows, eat well,  and sleep by the open window until the morning.  By late evening,  if you're lucky,  a cool breeze blows through the open window and across the bed.  The sound, apart from the leaves rustling in the trees is the neighbours' air-conditioners.

It is that time during the day,  when it is necessary to be quiet and calm in this weather that there is time to think.  Once the household tasks for the day are done,  and any business attended to,  I have time to read.
I have six children (now grown) but, when they were small  our family moved countries every two to five years, in search of work.  Not only did I have a hectic household,  but moving regularly added greatly to my duties and responsibilities....  packing,  unpacking,  getting children settled in school,  husband settled in work and keeping up with the day to day stuff all of the time.  Reading was such a luxury that I still have a kind of guilty pleasure in taking time for such indulgence.  This weather is such a bonus...  reading time!

Today I received three books from Amazon.   We don't have any bookshop in Kapunda,  and so I've learned to shop online.
I am reading a book entitled "Ruminations from the Garden"  by Don Henry Ford Jr.  
Product Details
This is a non-fiction book about raising a garden in Texas,  where the climate is similar to this one in the summer and the descriptions of pitiful, dying plants ring so true.  But today,  the description of calloused hands that saved a wealthy man from kidnap made me think of my own unmanicured and untidy hands.  Gardening doesn't help callouses or broken fingernails, and attending a formal business meeting at a council or board meeting with dirty finger nails,  straight from the garden, is not the way to impress one's fellow councillors or board members.  
However,  in the words of Don Henry Ford Jr.,   "there is no way to earn callouses (or dirty broken finger nails) like these, short of hard work."
I do feel better about my lack of a manicure after today's reading... and I'm only up to page 23!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Trivet

Yesterday was a hot and dry day.  In fact it was 42C (107F)  in the shade yesterday, and already it's 40C at 11 in the morning.  I wonder what it will be by the middle of the afternoon! (ed.  so far it has made it to 43C... 110F in the shade outside my back door... it's funny to be able to put your thumb over the bulb of the thermometer to bring the temperature down...  it's only 30C... 86F in the kitchen.)
The garden looks a bit the worse for wear, but despite that,  I am finally picking enough vegetables to keep us...  along with rice and lentils and/or beans.  I am much happier eating home grown meals.
I am staying inside and I'll probably spend some of the afternoon in the coolest part of the house,  reading.  It always seems so luxurious...  anything but the hard life.

As I made the coffee this morning,  and brought it in to the kitchen (I didn't light the fire this morning... I used the gas stove on the back verandah)  I put it onto the usual trivet that I use to protect my kitchen "bench"   right here....

This started me thinking about the trivet and where it came from.  I have had it since I lived in Regina, and it was made by a neighbour,  Al Wall.   He and his wife were my best friends while I lived there.
I had left Australia for the third time, very sad,  as I didn't expect to ever get back here again, at the time...  but that is another story.  It was 1986.
Al's wife,  Gwen,  was the neighbour who showed up on my doorstep with a container of home made cookies "for the children" (I had four at the time) and a list of phone numbers for tradesmen etc, details of services (garbege collection,  milkman,  etc) and, of course, her own phone number... in case I needed help or babysitting!   I was noticeably pregnant at the time,  and later,  Gwen was to tell me of her apprehension about possible noisy neighbours.... with all those children!   It turned out that we weren't noisy at all, and Gwen became a good friend.  We could wave across the two back yards between kitchen windows when the leaves had fallen and the snow was on the ground... at -40C, one doesn't get out much, and even a sociable wave is significant at about this (FEB) time of the year!
In Canada,  children don't remain at school all day (unless they live very far away)  as, particularly in winter,  there's nowhere to accomodate them indoors.  And so my children had to return home daily,  for lunch.  While I was in hospital with that particular baby,  my older children had lunch at "Gwen's."
In fact,  in the two years that I lived in Regina,  I had two babies,  and moved when the youngest of my six children was only three months old.  We had only been there for two years... and, not surprisingly,  I found it exhausting.
Al Wall was a talented wood-worker.  He made all manner of wooden items,  some elegant and spectacular, some practical household items and all absolutely beautiful!  And so to my trivet...  Al used left over tiles from another job and made this simple trivet that he gave me when I left Regina... and  have used it ever since.  What's more,  every time I do... just like this morning when I made the coffee, I think of Al and Gwen.
There have been many people who have had an influence on my life,  but there is something about having familiar objects (ones that you use every day)  that keeps these people as a part of one's life,  no matter how far away or how long ago.  It is no wonder that attachment to objects... whether personal, fetish or even symbolic religious icons are so important to people....  or even a trivet for my coffee pot in the morning.
In recent times,  I have caught up with Gwen on the internet.  I "discovered" her daughter on Facebook,  got an email address,  and she does email occasionally.  I haven't mentioned the trivet to her yet.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Hot day staying inside...

The weekend has been pretty quiet.  i did have to go to sit in the Tanunda gallery yesterday,   and with a few hours out of the  middle of the day,  it seemed as though I didn't get much done...  I did photograph the coming vegetables in the garden when I arrived home though...
.... a baby capsicum....

... yet another eggplant (and there are a lot more flowers also)...


...  Roma tomatoes... still coming...

This is a cucumber plant... 

All of these were planted quite late (after I arrived back from Louise's) and so they are a bit late to produce as well,  however,  as with all of these "stuff-ups"  ther is something to learn.  The earwigs are definitely out-witted.  As the weather has got hotter and drier,  the earwigs have left!  All good.

Today I am sitting inside,  doors and windows closed, cricket on in the background and having a quiet day.  I have been tired lately,  so I'm enjoying the day.
I walked all around to make sure that the windows were covered as best they could be...
...  the kitchen with its outside blind and the "evil eye" protecting us from any harm....

... the bedroom window is really dark....

...  it is covered with a piece of mud cloth.  It's very thick cotton fabric with an amazing pattern on it....  in fact,  with the bed in front of the window (so that the cool night air can blow in) it makes a "head board"  for the bed.  With the flash on the camera you can see it....


The living room window still lets some light in,  though I'll pull the curtains over later...

... in fact the fabric that protects the living room window is exactly the same as this...


... a heavy "tapestry" weave fabric (flash photo) that also protects the front door,  in summer from the heat,  and in the winter from the cold draughts.
The "spare" room has thin fabric that was preferred by Chris when he was living here.  This window faces the afternoon sun,  so it really does need to be better protected.  I need another of those outside bamboo blinds... and I'll be looking at garage sales next winter!


The back door from the kitchen....  looks out onto the back verandah and the gas stove....  just in case I dont' want to light the fire...


And this is how the kitchen stove appears during the day when it isn't alight.  The light shines down the chimney and looks a little eerie on the stove top.   The chimney is open to the sky at the top,  and when it rains,  the drops land on the stovetop as well...  perhaps it's just as well we don't have very much rain (or snow!)

It's interesting adding photographs of the house...  it is quite different from the usual modern house.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Planting vegetables for the next season

I have been rather disorganised lately... normally I plant something weekly,  but it's been a bit vague lately.
Normally,  in January, I should have planted the food for June and July.  It has been very hot and dry, and it would have been very hard early in the month,  but my disorganised patch hasn't helped either.
When things like that happen though,  there's no point in worrying about that... so I have decided to see what I can do now.
Today I planted some seedlings.  I bought these from a local nursery rather than raising them myself,  but never mind.  This is a broccoli seedling surrounded with mulch...
I also planted cauliflower and some kale seeds....  I'll watch those closely.

Across the way, these are mustard seeds... "on the hoof"....
... the eggplant that I've showed before... growing bigger.

This is the tree that I need to deal with before the winter... a kurrajong, a huge tree that shades the house (and the solar hot water panel) in the winter. 

I intend to cut this back to the trunk.  The tree will survive and shoot back as a different looking specimen.  (In fact one sees them in NSW cut like this for fodder and they shoot again in a funny sort of way.  
My plan is to cut the branches back,  get them "chipped" and compost them into soil for the yard.  Kurrajongs are not much good for firewood,  or I'd be using it for that.  This one will end up as soil.