Another recipe from Joan’s …Peter’s mum and her scrumptious cakes.
But before I start on this recipe, I would like to mention that today Peter has made the most delicious roast ever. He grabbed a recipe from a site called Cuisine- Facile (a french site which has many languages tho). Mind you he decide that I should have a break from the cooking…Truly appreciate it. And since I am going on a short trip with some friends he thought he’d better start early!
He defrosted one of our own beef roast, (yes we do raise our cows) and marinated it with all sorts of herbs overnight. Then, the next day or should I say the next night , he put it in the slow cooker for 7 hours. During the night aromas drifted up to the bedroom. I am not sure wether I liked that, but I fell asleep and after a while of course did not noticed anything. The next day just an hour before eating he lit the BBQ and roasted it for just 20mns. With it, he arranged next to it some potatoes, onions and Jerusalem Artichokes from the garden. I could not wait to try it. The smells invaded the house and my stomach could not wait. I was asking him: “c’mon, is it ready yet” ”just a few more minutes” says he. Finally, the roast arrived on the table garnished with all the vegies. I could not restrain myself and plunged the knife into it. But the knife was useless.The fork did a splendid job…It was like butter. A real success and with a nice drop of Cabernet Sauvignon from the hills of Adelaide in South Australia, Richard Hamilton, the whole meal went down like a dream.
Now for the cake recipe from Joan:
125g of Butter
150g of Honey
Together: rind and juice of One lime, one Orange and one Lemon
3 eggs, beaten
300g of Semoulina
200g of ground Almonds
3 teaspoons of Baking powder
To make the syrup you will need:
150g of Honey
5 Tablespoons of water
2 teaspoons of Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
3 Tablespoons of orange juice
Blend all the the ingredients for the syrup
How to proceed:
cream butter, honey+ citrus rind till pale and fluffy
Beat in the citrus juices + eggs ( a little at a time) continue to beat then, fold in the semoulina with the ground almonds and baking powder.
Put in a tin with baking paper before so that it does not stick. A normal baking tin.
Bake at 210 degrees for 10mns then at 180 for 30 mns.
When you get out out of the oven pour the syrup slowly onto it .
Enjoy! It is just marvellous with a nice cup of coffee!
Till next time!
13th April, 2013
Intellectualism is a point of fixation.
Can we really capture our first feelings? Is it really possible? Can we really re- live old feelings? Are we really trying to recreate what we have lost? Feelings change one may say. They change with life events, as we experience new situations, these move with it. One mixes up changes with disappearance. One has to change. One can’t live with someone without changes that occur on an every day basis.
Imagine, if every time you wanted to make love with your partner you tried to recreate the same feelings that you had for instance 20 years ago. Is that possible? Do you have to make an effort to love something or someone? As soon as there is effort, you only pretend to love. It is not natural at all. If every time to have to search for that first feeling when you are trying to make love then you are making all sorts of efforts to fix that first feeling. As soon as there is effort there is a lack of authenticity.
Thought has taken too much preponderance and has to be put back in its place.
Thought is the choice of the data bank if you like, it draws from memory. When a thought arises it is expressed through language and that is how it expresses itself. Hence it is always the past. It is the expression of memory. It has arisen from it and it becomes conscious. Its function is to fix.
There are two sides to that. It is lucky and unlucky at the same time. On the one hand it is very adept at functioning in our everyday life…food production, house building, orientation. It evolves. Look at our ancestors and what we are today. It may have taken them ages to light a fire; today it is done with a flick of a switch. It has a practical function. It allows action, it is action. On the other hand thought by itself is damned. It can never have all the information. Today it is totally overwhelmed with information…data.
We can see how we fix our description of the world in our mind, and take that model into the relational field we live in. The description becomes our reality; a set of labels projected onto the vibrant relational field that is life. One has to be careful of labels. Labels cover the content, so that we see the label rather than the content. One has to discover that, and our attitude to this field is to resist it by all means.
Can we seize our ME? It is impossible. Why is it impossible? If you point your finger at me and ask: what is this ME that you occupy, that you live? What is it? The question sounds simple, but when I try to look around the mental space that I inhabit, my consciousness you could say, I am stumped when I try to say just what it is. I can’t say what it is, nor can I say what its boundaries are. When I want to seize ME, I don’t realise that I am creating another ME. And if I want to seize the one that I have just created, I again create another one. Because to grab this first one, there must be another one that does it also. Hence you can’t never catch it or grab it… It is almost unconscious. One is not aware of it.
Talking about the boomerang. How was this instrument invented? How did it happen? How did it come into existence? The Aboriginal people of Australia were living with their environment. They lived close to nature and all that it meant for them. A sense of being related with everything that brought them their food for survival. An osmosis with the trees, the earth, the sun, all the elements that surrounded them. Today’s western civilisation has lost this intimacy with all that. Not the idea of a relation with nature, but for them it was living like that on a daily basis. They were not living with the idea of nature, they were nature, they were aware of the common interest that they had with their surroundings. And that their survival depended on these relationships. They were not exploiting nature, no property. We have lost this today. And we try desperately to find it. Hence the idea of devising a boomerang arises from this tight intimacy with nature and their deep relation within it. In this relational movement of interdependence, there is possible emergence of creativity. If this relationship, in this exchange with one’s environment is non-existent, there will be little or no creativity. If I am not integrated and isolated how can I become creative? It is incompatible and impossible. It is in the depth of my relation with all my surroundings….here we can see how it is difficult to transmit through words this feeling of total relationship. “Surroundings” has very little meaning unless it is lived. There is no inside and outside even if the word transmits that.
Now we can understand the duality of language. One can understand how language can seem inadequate to express this feeling of osmosis. This vision is not an image; it is this deep feeling of interdependence…Even the word “vision” is misleading. One can’t exist without the other and this immense interrelationship that created our organism and it is working in total osmosis. An exchange that is beyond what we can see with our naked eyes. Thought cannot even start fathoming what is taking place in this immensity. It is an incredible world in itself. And we should not forget that our body is made of that world…. continual exchange and relationships and communication with all the molecules and particles. We are not even aware of what is taking place within us. Hence, we are not “surrounded” by our environment; we are an integral part of that. No outside, no inside. No separation.
When we separate, we only have an idea of that separation. And it is this idea that separates…but even that is not correct because, thought is totally part of that also. It is a continuation of these exchanges. For humankind this is a very difficult passage, to see this separation, which is not a separation. It is only created by thought. The multitude of differences that thoughts creates, the profusion of characteristics, and it is all these processes that we are entirely part of. Thoughts, words are only a frame that is useful. And it is this totality that allows every one of us to be what we are. Each one of us has his own distinction and beauty …without being separated.
Thought has created marvellous things, but by the same token has also created immense problems that we are facing without any decent solutions for today.
Till next time …and thank you Peter for your editing and your support.
After my thoughts on Words and Events, I decided to start a collection of recipes. Why is that you may ask? Easy, the other day as I was cleaning some old books and shelves, I saw an old exercise book containing recipes that my husband’s mother (Joan) had RELUCTANTLY parted with. But we had, for some reason managed to appropriate from her. Peter did, I never got one. So, I resolved that it would be interesting to change tack for a while and write what she had given us.
I will add also some of my favourite ones. But I do not guarantee any of it. I have this tendency to make a lot of recipes on the run. I go into the garden and see what is growing and imagine what I could do with what nature has to provide for this day and what I feel like adding or what inspires when I get into the kitchen. SO, there will be a hotchpotch of many different things. Or just make up something on the run that would turn great, then will forget all about it and never reproduce the same thing twice. Many people curse me for that…anyway, it will also take me quite a while to finish, but that I do not mind at all and I have to start somehow. So here we go without further ado!!!
This particular cake also was made by husband when I had a catering business and sold hundred of them to health food shops around the city.
Will start however with Joan’s FRUIT CAKE…Slightly modified to avoid sugar.
Weight of cake: 1kg
For the first step
Spices 1/2 tea spoon each of ground cinnamon, cloves, star anis,all spices. You can also add the proportion you like, but don’t over do it!
250g of Butter or Margarine ( I prefer butter)
200ml Apple juice concentrate
I cup of Orange juice
900g of mixed dried fruits (try 300×3)
A good nip of spirit
1TSP of salt
1TSp of bicarbonate of Soda
Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and boil for 5 mns, let it cool then add and stir gently then add :
200g of self raising flour
200g of plain flour
Mix all the ingredients till all is well incorporated.
Line a tin cake with greaseproof paper or baking paper.
Bake slowly at 150 degree for up to 3 hours.
Try it and tell me if you like, but I am sure all of you will have their version of a fruit cake and there are no doubts thousands on the net by myriad of people from all over the world. But it does not matter really does it? Find you own.
Til next time or next recipe.
I have been thinking recently about words and what they mean, especially when someone passes away. We feel most obliged (at times) to say “I am sorry for your loss” I am really sorry ” “my condolences” . We write all sorts of formalities on cards also, some are already pre arranged/pre formatted for us so that we don’t have to think too much of what we could say. We buy flowers if needed be, we attend funerals and look solemn. Even wear black…mind you for the Chinese it is white.
Now all these little things are as I said above etiquette and things that we should say or do during these times. I have been asking myself after seeing all that, if they really convey our sorrow, our grief, our hurt, our loss. Do we really mean it? Of course you would say we do. It is terrible to loose someone, like your mother, father, son, daughter and dear friends or any other family member that was close to us. It is normal to express through words the extend of our feelings.
I recall an incident that happened many years ago. I was just around 8 or 9 and my uncle who was living in the same building passed away. The whole house hold was in turmoil. women crying and lamenting, tears flowed freely. My grand mother was very distraught, it was her brother. All the family members arrived at 10 o’clock in the evening and everyone was surprised. How did it happened? Why now? My uncle, Phallo, was so nice…that was not true in my eyes, he was such a stingy man, severe, opulent, strutting in the street with the first black car in the area. A chauffeur by his side and at his beck and call. He owned a candy wholesale business that was located right under the house on the ground floor. You could imagine a little girl at the time passing in front of his door almost everyday after school and seeing mountains of lollies and biscuits all piled up. I used to say to him when I came back : “Good afternoon uncle” he hardly replied and went counting his stock. Day after day was the same routine. Mind you, he could have thought that it was in my interest to say such things. He hardly uttered a word and the thing that used to afflict me… or should I say …yes, you guessed it, was the fact that he never ever came out and offered me a biscuit or a lolly. I was really horrified at his stinginess. In my mind I would think “why is he like that”? But I never got a response to my questions. I remained perpetually baffled by the attitude of this man…a member of the family! Mind you, I used to sneak in the big room and look at the packets of goodies just gloating when he was at the back talking to clients, he never heard me or saw me….I supposed.
So, that night when he passed away, I never felt anything and my first thought was, what was going to happen to all the packets of lollies and biscuits? I did not feel the need to cry or felt sorry. But when the funeral went underway, everyone in the street was crying, screaming a real concert of lamentations. I was not allowed to go to the funeral as I was too little ( so I was told) and I stayed on the balcony watching the procession slowly coming out the house. I started to feel uncomfortable, my God! I am not crying, what should I do? The maid was also shedding some sort of tears, so I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a big onion and started rubbing it on my eyes. Yes, I started to cry and join all the people in their “suffering”. Could be genuine of course. When they came all back to our home and talked about it my grandmother and parents asked almost in unison: “You have such red eyes was it because of uncle Phallo ? I must have overdone it with the onion I thought. I did not answer as I was a little scared to say the wrong thing. I just stood there and just looked at everyone. All their eyes were on me. Dad came around as well as grandma and put their hands around me. I was really not at ease at all. So I ran to my room while the adults stood all dressed in black were milling around with cups of teas and coffees and other food that was on tables. Candles were lit everywhere for days on end. It was really nice to see all these lights. But as you can imagine, I was in a turmoil inside. People really believed I was crying for my uncle while in fact I despised him with all my heart. A few days later or maybe weeks, stories starting filling our house about all his Scrooge like approach, penny pinching and worse. Oh!boy I thought, I am not the only one. They thought the same I though all these years about him, but were they faking their crying too? I never asked them. Dad told me many years later that he was a real mean man and recalled some stories of his own. I felt vindicated. I told him the story about the onion. Mum and dad burst into a belly laugh for quite a while.
I asked myself then, how is it that people behave in such a way and pretend like that? I do not have an answer to that today. People are what they are and behave indeed in a strange way, I guess just hypocrisy I suppose. They have to. We all have to do weird things and pretend. Do we do that all the time?
How can we really put ourselves in other people shoes in such event? What words can we convey in times such as these? I also suppose that everyone shows their grief in a very particular manner. For me words are just a tool to describe something. an approximation of reality. Never the event itself. They are the map not the territory as someone would say. They only try to convey a fragment of what is taking place. If you are at the scene of an event and have 100 persons witnessing the same thing, not one recalling of that event will be the same. We all have a different perception of what took place. What are we seeing then? Of course, I am speaking on the psychological level, not in the realm of building a house for instance, where we need exact measurements and tools to perform the job.
If I were to describe to you the taste of an exotic fruit such as a durian, I will use all the vocabulary that I know of to describe to the best of my abilities the taste, the texture, the form, the consistency, the appearance. I will use all the imagery that is available to convey MY experience. It will stop there. Until you, yourself, go through the experience of it, it will have very little meaning. That is where I see the limitations of words. In the psychological realm, they are only an indicator, a pointer. Hence a limitation.
So, sometimes it is best to say nothing in moments of grief. A kiss, a touch, a look and above all a silence. Silence may communicate more than words. But we are all addicted to words and already made sentences, already made cards, already made formula, already made attitudes, already made reactions and beliefs. Of course, if we send some flowers or a card, the other person is going to see that we thought of her/him. they might be pleased or touched. What I am saying is that we are have to be AWARE of our actions at the time of doing so. Where does it come from? What is the motif behind it? Is it out of obligation? Just being aware of that, may change our response to many situations. Easier said than done hey? But, it is the stalking of our movements, our actions, our sentences already pre determined by our upbringing that is going to liberate us of our loaded ego. The incredible lightness of being has some merits.
I “ll leave you with a photo taken at dawn of a spider web in front of our veranda taken by Sulma Warne
Till next time.
The weather is getting slightly colder but not quite. And it is time again to think about our big trip.
Part of the excitement is all the preparation beforehand . I am not quite sure whether I call that excitement or a lot of thinking before going…anticipation. Well it is going to be the usual taking care of the house taking care of the chickens and the cows, ensuring that the hay has been ordered and delivered. Taking care of the dogs sorry the dog. I had almost forgotten that Sam had gone last year.Taking care of the veggie garden. Planting the a few seedlings that will (maybe) be ready when we get back. Ensuring that the house sitter knows the routines and where everything is. Sometimes I wish that I did not have such a menagerie. But that is only a wish, because when I am not going anywhere I love to have them around and looking after them all. Plenty of weeks left to prepare the little goodies to take with us and think up of what we are going to carry. Not much but, it is when we come back that we are going to be loaded…as usual. Lucky Thai Airways is quite generous with our luggage!
Also the small butcher bird that made himself at home… He comes everyday for his little feed. Should I tell the house sitter to feed it or do I let him fend for himself for two months? He did manage well before. I have just noticed also that he got rid of his babies. They use to come all four of them for a feed. No more. What happened? Well, I gathered that he gave them the whole the boot. Nowadays he is the only one. All of them have gone away , they deserted the nest. Now, he gets all the best bits.
I had noticed over the last few weeks as he brought them for a feed. They would arrive and wait on the veranda each of them singing their head of for a feed. I did feed the lot of them. HE would not give them the bits of meat that I had presented to him. So, I diligently gave the meat to the babies which of course they looked at puzzled then, chirped, sung for dad or mum to give it to them…to no avail. They would not budge. They would wait patiently on the balustrade and not moving till they had begrudgingly flew down to pick up their meat. One of them had even the temerity to take it from my hand. Great, I thought you are daring and you are going to be part of the clan. At one time they even flew into the living room, my husband was horrified and would choo them away. That little circus went on for a few weeks till, I am sure the parents “told them” enough, you are on your own guys, now it is time to go and fetch your food somewhere else. Presently , he is alone and enjoying the privileges of being king of the roost. Talking about roost, we have just discovered that the surviving chicken that the python did not manage to eat ended up a rooster. This morning for the first time we heard a croaky sound coming from the coop. Peter said: ”Listen, carefully” I stop what I was doing and gave my attention to the sounds around me and low and behold, indeed, it was the young rooster exercising his first song. I was stunned because all along I was almost sure that it was just another hen.
But back to the preparations. We still have heaps to do. We have not booked any flights within Europe. We have not booked our trains tickets for travels within France. So, in the next few days this is going to be out priority. All the families in France and England have been told of our arrival. I did change some money already, that is done. I’ll have to buy heaps of food for the chickens and the only dog. What else is there? Gosh! Have I forgotten anything? I am sure I have, things will start to come to the surface as time comes near. In the meantime, I will be busy at the Gallery doing some voluntary work till the last minute.
I am so looking forward to this break, as I said earlier it is exhilarating knowing that there not long to go. It has been a very demanding last few months. The little cabin that we built had taken so much time. Peter has just managed to install the last few bits this afternoon and I am happy that he will not be doing any more work on it. That project had taken so much of his time, energy and I dare say sleepless nights of fathoming what the next move will be or churning over and over what would be the best approach to the sink, the composting toilet, the kitchen shelf and above all the immense chore of all the water works. DONE! finished and well executed Peter. You earned a great holiday from it all. Now, he sleeps better not having any more ideas or designs..till when… that is what I am scared of with him. Time will tell!
In the end I talked about lots of other things and got a little carried away. Till next time!
Like the far away friend that writes to her blog about “the moment”, I decided to add a few things to her marvellous text.
Yes, it is true, we miss a lot …our roof brain chatter is non -stop. The stream of thoughts that come and go have nothing to do with the present. There are remnants of the past. These thoughts are a long stream of ideas that have shaped us. Through our teachers, parents, friends, media, environment, and our experiences that we had. We churn them out day in day out. But this is the process that we are made of. They have moulded us into what we are today. Then, we say, “this is me”. We have acquired all of them and selected a few to make them our reality, are they really?
In my view that are not the reality at all, only a representation through old …very old ideas. An idea is never present. An idea is a reflection of the past. Show me a present idea? They don’t exist. Why? the answer is very simple and you know it already, they simply don’t function in the now as they are build up of the past and will always be generated by the past. They come after the events as a description of what is….or try to describe what is. They could never succeed because they recall. The present has no words to describe itself. If it had it would not be PRESENT. The present can’t be described. The thought is always after the event. It recalls. It is a normal process. The magic is that NOW is only to be lived. Trying to describe is futile.
If I am cooking which I really like, I am with the cooking. The process knows what to do. If I start thinking, or just come at the time of my doing something we can quickly witness it and go back to what we are doing. If I give vent to that thought: how horrible is my dog, or the problems that I encounter with m y neighbour, or thinking about my next week end, or whatever goes in at the time, then I quickly lose track of the present task. I get confused, lose the thread, or just give that thought full rein and I am lost. Then we go back and they ” what was I doing? what did I forget to add? what should do next? all these question are a sign that we are not with what we are doing. Of course, one has to stop and see what is needed to complete the task, but that is being with what is.
My father used to say it the simplest thing in the world. is to BE. How easy are the words? How easy it is to UNDERSTAND? Yes, dad, to understand is easy, to do or not do, is harder. Intellectuel understanding is the half way measure. Catching yourself in the act is the hardest thing because thought comes back to justify its position and attitude. Simple but not easy!
What does it mean to catch yourself in the act? My neighbour insults me, is angry with me, treats me like I was a fool. What should I do? Attempt to convince him/her that I am not. If he has decried that I am, what and whom am I fighting. Oh! wait a minute, I am seeing that I am trying to protect my little ego or my big one. The more I try to convince him, the more indignant I become and the more I will boast my self righteousness. I feel hurt to be treated in such fashion. But on the other hand if I see right away his anger, his arrogance, his hatred, his frustration….which I am also made of but not aware of, then my response will be different. Why should I feed him more of the same that he is already fighting to achieve? What he is achieving? He also wants to be right. Both can’t be right, one has to give in or give up. The stillness inside me will point the way and see all that. If I REACT, I won’t be in the position to see anything and be caught up in the same game. What to do, you may ask? Simple but easy again. The space, the calm, the stillness, the vision whatever you may want to call it has the answer. But watch the mind and see how it wants to defend itself against all that. That seeing is the freedom from the known. One may not see it right away (for me that is). But on the other hand, Krisnamurti would say the seeing is the liberation and it is instantaneous.
Being here is the only answer to the myriad of problems and issues that are eating us and causing us ill-ease. As we are always caught to remedy situations and issues, it appears unsurmountable. Again my father would say in that vein, that “the solutions of today are the problems of tomorrow” simply because we are always dealing with half concocted solutions. They are never whole, but partial. But that could be the subject of another topic and exchange.
SUNSET IN NIMBIN
It is truly comforting to see that the people that I frequent and talk to or even correspond with, are interested in a different view of the world.
I was dabbling with a sight that rambled about the doom and gloom of the world. I spoke to a few people about it and found out in the end it was all about conspiracy theories. Well, at time what they said seemed to make sense, it was well written ( not all the time) and espoused SOME opinions that I was familiar with. But it was non-stop. My mind was being filled with a lot of data that did not “advance” me at all except that I was seeing the world in a big mess (which it is), but that is not all that is around one. Sure, corporations can be corrupt, unethical, greedy, unscrupulous, domineering, sure we live in a world that has gone eschewed, lack integrity, surely that is not all the world. Sure, our politicians have also been caught on this bandwagon of folly. Equally corrupt and dishonest, equally lacking in integrity and common sense, caught up with the spin of their lackeys, they are governing with some special interests in mind and once elected they forgo their initial impetus at reforms. They back pedal and become another breed of people. A breed that alienate the very people that have elected them.But, there are also people around that are trying to make it a better place and above all have distanced themselves from this madness. Realising the farce and the lies one has to move away from this circus. In it but not of it as my father would say.
What matters in the end is where you are inside. How you deal with people and friends, how to be conscious of what moves us and understand that there are other dimensions to living . Is it running away ? No, it is about keeping one’s sanity and instead of filling our mind with petty tid- bits of infotainement, pseudo news that are forever churning out the same propaganda, the same views of the world, the same lies and deception from one interest group or another, the same sensationalism, it is much better to be away from this rubbish and focus on the beauty of our world. Not I want to escape it, I can’t but just to liberate my mind of all this rubbish that is truly polluting our spaces at all levels. No joy in all that.
What could compare to the beauty of a newly formed rose or plant around the garden.( Yes, I am in a privileged position to do just that) and I thank whatever force, energy, or god if you like, to show me that my greatest joy lies in waking up in the morning and seeing the beautiful spectacle that is in front of me.
Of course, the people in other parts of the world may not be as fortunate, I fully realise that also, I witness their suffering, their agony, their misery, their lack of water and food, their horrible living conditions. No, no sense of guilt there, but that teaches me to be more aware of what I have and not squander the resources that are on loan to me for my time on this earth.
Just to see how the chicken are producing the food that we consume :eggs. Everyday faithfully they produce an amazing little oval shaped ball that is nutritive. Just here in the garden among the trees and the straw, among the birds and the grass. I think that is truly a little miracle in itself. The same could be said about the abundance of vegies growing and producing our food. Freshly picked, freshly cooked, freshly consumed…another miracle and a testimony of what we are being given. OOPS, here I am again in the garden.
This year the harvesting of small gherkins has been phenomenal. Everyday my husband comes back with a handful of them. I have made jars upon jars of picked gherkins and we have been eating so many of them raw. Huge pumpkins, okra, lettuces, basil, bitter gourds, beans and I am sure I have forgotten many. I think we’ll be right for gherkins for a very long time.
Well, another shower of rain has just arrived and will be over soon. Time to potter in the garden again away from the maddening crowd, or I might listen to my book and get on with my knitting!
Peter and have finally started to clear up the debris of the massive trunks and bamboos . As I said previously, the chainsaw managed to die the day we wanted it, so armed with a small hand saw we cleared the chicken coop roof. Two huge branches fell on the roof and they were Casurina pine trees. For some reason they are very hard and tough to cut. The wood is really compact. Legend around here has it that it was used by bakers in the olden days. Their hardness made them apparently suitable for burning long and steady. I can attest to the hardness that is for sure. It is one of the toughest wood I ever cut. That was a work out and half at the end of one hour we were just exhausted. No gym today!
The chickens were of course very curious and all gathered around us to see what they forage from the fall out. They were happily pecking around as hard as they could and occasionally running away when a branch was cut. But back they were in a flash to get more juicy bits.
After these efforts, we decided that we were going to wait for the chain saw for the other trees that had fallen. Among them, another big Casurina behind the house. Too hard work. We were in such a sweat after we completed this huge job. When we got back from the farmer’s market the next day, we decided to clear the huge bamboo that had crashed on the gate. That was a little easier. We just moved the huge poles away from the gate and onto the inside paddock. The water had drained from them a little and they were not that heavy to carry. I put a notice on our Nimbin Forum to see if they were some people that might be interested to pick up some poles. So, after all we may not have to do such a huge clean up if some nice souls decide to take most of them. That would be nice no?
The grass is now galloping and it is time to mow. Over the next few days that will be my job while Peter will attend to the huge operation of dismantling the outside of bathroom wall. Yes, we have no bathroom. No shower. But in the heat of summer, we have a nice warm outside shower. That will do the job for the time being. But I dread to think what he will find behind these walls. The whole plumbing section is just behind there. IS the plumbing really gone or was it the tiler that did not do his job properly? So, painstakingly he will attend to all that in due course. It never stops really. He has such patience it is unbelievable.
On my way to the Farmer’s market this morning I saw the extend of the damages that were inflicted on the roads. Huge branches and tree trunks lay scattered on the side of the road. Bits of road with big pot holes, the wind and water had inflicted serious erosion of some parts of the main route and care was taken to avoid any major accidents. People were driving cautiously. I guess everyone has some sorts of ideas of what a disaster scene looks like by now. It is so frequent all over the world, we could become almost blaze by it all. it is easy to detach one self from disasters around the globe, but when it hits home it is another story I thought. Until one is really affected by it, then one realises that the world over is in the same predicament. Human suffering is the dreadful feeling that we all share.
Till next time
A cup of tea by my side, I lay in a warm bed relaxed, warm watching the billions of drops lashing at the windows in front of me. The winds are fierce and gales of up to 50km are bending the bamboos so low I fear they might be uprooted.
Branches are falling everywhere and a mighty casurina branch just fell on the chicken coop. Then, Peter says I should go and cut it off. I look at him, “you are joking I respond with a tinge of anger and bewilderment in that rain and wind? ” I don’t mind he says, then I ignore him and continue knitting. He did not go out in the end. Commonsense prevailed. But he did go out to make sure that the tremendous amount of water that was rushing down the drive did not cause too many ruts. So in the rain he went, digging along it to ensure that if followed the path intended and cleaned all the bamboos leaves clogging it. All that in lashing rain…The chooks were fed and made secure. Yes, Peter, love the water!
The rain comes in an incline of 45 o steady, very steady. In fact it has not stopped for the last 72 h. I do mean non stop. No respite, not for one second.
The valley and the mountain across are shrouded in a blanket of white cloud. Opaque and impenetrable. The sound on the roof can be at times quite heavy. It resonates on the tin roof and is deafening.
Birds are away, not a peep, where are they all? I am sure they are hidden somewhere, wet and bedraggled. Then, little cheeky butcher birds, the resident pet ones that I feed regularly…oh by the way they have have brought in 2 new babies. They chirp incessantly on the veranda. The four of them take turn to beg for food. In that storm that has been lashing out they come and perch on the veranda and just sit there dry and safe, a nice refuge. They do not want to move. They are not scared. They do not even want any food, just safe and protected from the water. They are wet very wet. So, they all comfortably standing, I look at the baby ones, they are just starting to take their own food, they are not sure what to do yet. Should they go on the ground to pick the little piece of beef that I just thrown, not sure of that one…waiting for mum or dad to feed them might not happen, so he just dives on the floor and chirping like mad looks at the meat…keeps looking not sure what to do. In the meantime, mum or dad, still perched on the balustrade watch and do not move, not a movement. Still stridently tweeting, he still hesitate looking at the piece not knowing how to proceed, but hunger gets to him and he hops closer and closer and still noisily is sitting 20 cm away. What should I do with this tempting morsel? Another couple of seconds staring at it, then finally it is not happening, nobody is going to hand it to him, so he precipitously pounce on it and flies away. He has made his first step in feeding himself under the watchful eye of mum who did move an inch, but just watched totally unconcerned or so it seemed.
The bamboos are now at a 90o angle and being lashed by the rain. It is coming down and down and down. The valley is totally under water which is gushing, transporting with it branches and debris. The 2 causeways along our road have broken their banks and water floods the road. Dangerous, as one does not see the dead trunks or other debris that are stuck in the middle of the bridge. One can get stuck quite easily.
Yesterday , as I was on voluntary roster duty at the local Nimbin Artists Gallery, (see our Facebook page) it was touch and go…will I close early? No, I’ll hang in there for a while. Then, Peter rings me and says that the bridge might overflow any moment and I might be stuck. I was still not decided. So, I waited for a a little while longer. Rain still pouring down in tons in the village also. A few hours later, another phone call, Peter was desperate, “Gigi. it is touch and go…” “ok said I.” It was 14.30h. Come and pick me up. I closed the gallery and we headed back home.
The water tanks are overflowing, the creek is over our little causeway is closing our drive, the cows are stuck on one side and they are not going across it….it is running fast. I suspect the calves will not attempt to cross, they might get stuck. But so far, the animals are safe but the drive is for the time being difficult to navigate just at the causeway. If the rain eases for a while it should be fine. But according to the latest forecast not in the immediate. Another 3 days of torrential lashing out of rain . The cows are very clever, they came up right to the top away from the flood down the property.
Well, as long as we are safe it is a good time to catch up on the little jobs around the house and a little more knitting and listening to a couple of audiobooks at the same time.
I was interrupted as we had more than 25h of power cut. Dinner by candle lights of course, plus heaps of candles everywhere. No water, not hot water, no shower…yes, we do smell a little. Heaps of frozen food might be perished in the freezer. Have not checked yet. Of course no internet, no phone. How weird to be cut off from everyone. but it was nice very nice as we relearned some basic ways of just being. Then, something happened the huge clump of bamboo by the entrance of the main gate decided to keel over and it did. CRASH! across the portal down the drive. and we could not get out. easy, peter said, let ‘s get the chainsaw and hack it down in pieces. There were about 40 branches. That was under torrential rains. The winds and rain were so strong that we seriously hesitated…but the chainsaw decided also to give up. It just would not start, so drove back up in the heavy rain and wind. I thought the mobile could be used and rang a friend who was not able to make it. He was also under water and could not get out of his drive. Tomorrow will do. There was nothing that could be done right now.
Next day, still no electricity for the whole morning. We managed to get a neighbour with a chain saw and he debited the 40 clumps in a wink of an eye. Peter and I managed to lift the heavy pieces from across the fence and the gate. Free at last. Now we could at least get out of the house. The sun was shining but the humidity was intolerable. AT least dry for a while before the next phase of rain. Not today tho. The bridge down the road were also flooded with huge and massive trunks on the road. We could not lift any of that. No way ! But some gentle soul did it for us and for all the dwellers on our street.
The worse affected part of the country is 200 km north of where we are. Some parts of Queensland have been declared catastrophe areas. So many people in troubles with the rains, the fires, the tornadoes, these elements of nature are totally unforgiving.
We all say when one thing goes wrong it start to become an avalanche. Well, over the last few weeks the avalanche started to get bigger.
One day we noticed that the bathroom tiled floor erupted in black patches along the grouting. I used all sorts of products to try to get rid of it but to no avail. after a long examination by my partner, he suggested that we asked a professional tiler. A young man, who comes and help us around the property on Saturday who is also a tiler during the week had a look and gave us his opinion. The results were that the drain was not properly seal when the tiles were put in place. He crawled under the house to find out that the boards had been slowly getting wetter. My husband decided to crawl himself and took another look and was armed with his camera as well. Well, it was true indeed the floor boards were wet, very wet. What to do? The young lad suggested that we appeal to the tiler who did the job a couple of years back and see if he could do something about it.
So, on the phone my husband went and spoke at length with him. Of course what did we expect the results would be? Not his fault at all, but it had to do with the plumbing. The young lad, said to us that tilers must by laws give a 10 year guarantee on the jobs that they performed. He had to have a license number and we must have a receipt of his works. We do. Haha! really! How are you going to convince someone to come and honour their work? But the discussions went on and the tiler promised to come back in 2 weeks to have a look. We are still waiting and in the meantime we have no shower. The other side of this story is that we are in the process of finishing a small sleep out and we bought an outdoor shower that hooks up to a gas cylinder. So, here we go, we hook it up among the bamboos and the bougainvillaea, (very thorny spot) and we go and take our shower among nature. Of course, being summer this is no problems and can be quite enjoyable to shower out. This saga for the time being is far from being resolved as we wait for the original tiler to come and inspect the works and see if he would honour his works. Shall we have faith in human nature or would it be again a case of washing their hands of their responsibilities? That is so often the case. We shall see.
Just before that, a tick killed one of our vealer and we were not here to rescue it. He died a painful death. A few years ago the same thing
happened to his mum and we were fortunately around and she was rescued and is kicking strong today. All our cows are very tamed and we do pat them and feed them by hand. This year we had 4 calves and we lost one. The other 3 are all strong and healthy.
The python has also been around and devoured 5 of our 3 months old chicks. We do share a lot of our life with the native fauna around here. The goannas also help themselves to eggs without counting the natives rats that can’t resist our corns and strawberries as well as their daily tour of the chicken coop to rummage for left over grains. The native galahs swooped in to see if they could scavenge some extra grains from the run, with them they brought the tiny insects called red mites. Red little blighters that suck blood. They did not invade the chickens so much( which is weird) but seems to have a preference for my husband. And me from time to time. They even accompanied him in bed. He was moaning from pain of the constant scratching. Waking up all hours to discover patches of bites. So did I. It was becoming a real nightmare. Theses little suckers preferred the warmest part of the body, in the groins, under the armpits, behind the fold of the legs and other places that I leave you to imagine. We tried DM earth, cleaning and other things nothing worked. In the end the radical solution had to be envisaged. The complete clearing out of the coop. All the hay was shovelled out and we dusted the whole area with a sulfur product.( nothing obnoxious) It worked, after a few days the population had diminished considerably but not entirely. I repeated the operation twice a week. We showered every time we went to the coop and changed clothes, changed sheet every night, sprayed the bed and sofas with eucalyptus oil solution which I made, took the duvet out in the sun, washed the floors every day, and even washed the dog. Now, the mites have retreated or died. Also the fact that we had 3 months without any rain did not help. Their population exploded, while the mosquitoes died out for a while. Small respite. Who loves to live in the country
One day as I was cooking bread, I just put it in the oven, put the timer on (my phone in my pocket) and went out to feed the fish in the pond and a little weeding. Came back when it struck and saw that the oven had stopped working. No more heat and my bread was half cooked. Despair engulfed me. But, not losing my cool, I tried different settings and realised that it was only the fan forced part that was not functioning, I therefore put it on normal oven. But it took twice as long and our dinner bread was late, very late. Another calamity!
My husband and son, managed to dismantle the the back of it to discover indeed that the fan forced was not working. Another job to attend to. Ordering a spare part through the internet and another day to fitted in. BRRRR! That day, I went ape. Two weeks later, they had decided to dismantle the oven just as I was ready to put another batch of bread. 10 to 15mns they said…Really I thought, hummmm, I did not believe it. The bread kept on rising and was getting flat. I was really worried, then they could not put it back together. By this stage I was fuming . Take a deep breath, calm down, what other tricks are there not to lose one’s cool? I joined in trying to put it back with them, I lost my cool, frustration started to build up…again stay calm, take a deep breath. Then I realised that they were trying to put the racks the wrong way. That little, or not so little episode made me furious. That was 2 hours later. The bread went in late, very late and a friend of ours who was coming for dinner said the bread was really nice. Really! I was not game to tell him the story. But, still spare part for the oven will be ordered and replaced next week… because in the meantime the washing machine also started to pack up.
Next week, I was assured it will be fixed but not while I was trying to cook another batch of bread. So the saga of the washing machine starts. I discovered that it would not spin. Tried all sorts of knobs and combinations to see what was wrong. Nothing came to mind till I saw that the water was not going anywhere at all. Blockage? yes for sure. Lint trap. I tried to take it out and it would not come. My son and my partner( husband of 40 years by the way) could not move it also after 24 h of struggling. I rang the service department at Asko. No problems they said, a customer service will ring me in 10 to 15 mns. It has been 6 hours! No service person will come to a country area to see what was the problem and fix it. Us in the country are seriously disadvantaged.
My two men struggled 2 hours this morning and managed to get the lint trap out. Lo and behold! what did they find? Money, yes lots of coins. They had been banked…or should I say banked up in there for the last few years. Happy to have fixed the problem, my son said, Gigi, this is how you laundered all the money hey? $20 in coins, there was also foreign coins…The perfect way to do it my husband said. We all had a laugh and a huge sigh of relief. Now, my son said: ” who is going to get it? ” He put them in a bowl of soapy water and counted the loot. Me, said the big bear, no, me said the little bear, no, said the mama bear, I’ll have it all and shout you all a beer!
In the end one has to laugh at it all. Nothing serious really. We all enjoy good health that is the most important, the rest can be taken care of in due course. Yes, problems happen and they are part of living. As we say around here “compost happens”