Busy with the painting

It has been some turbulent few weeks. When we came back from Europe and 2 weddings later, we decided finally to get the house repainted. My incessant cooking had transformed the kitchen from a very pale blue to an oily yellow and it was time to give it a fresh coat of paint and a little rejuvenation.

Then it was finding the right colours. An agony! I never thought that deciding on a colour was that hard. But it was. We settled finally on light blue just a little darker than the previous one. We did not want to be too adventurous. A little contrast could be seen below the outside is lighter while this side of the wooden door is a little darker in the picture below.

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Contrast between the old and the new
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Shade of blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

After many painters came and went we settled on a quiet young man. But like every tradesmen if I can generalise, they must have their radio blaring in the background. And there is one thing that I do not like is background noise of the incessant chatting and music all day long. My own company is amply sufficient with the twitters of the multitude of birds, frogs, cows, chickens and cat and dogs. My life is full at this level.

So, this painter was not going to lift a little finger in helping move the furniture. That got me really stroppy. So, Peter and I painstakingly prepared ourselves to do some heavy lifting. Seeing that we were much older than him, “HE” decided to give us a hand finally. But I suspect it was because he saw that we were twice his age and he started to feel just a little guilty to remain inactive in the face of 2 old people being strong and  him not showing some sort of  sensitivity or empathy. So, he did help in the end but just a little.

But we did “the works” during these 2 weeks. Cleaning behind everything, cobwebs, dead cockroaches …What a mess! Living on the farm has its attractions but also one has to be diligent about the dust and general cleanliness. Yes, two weeks of complete scrubbing and moving the sofas, the beds, the wardrobes, tables and so on. We never had so much exercises in 2 weeks and this is not quite finished also. Overnight we just go to bed knackered, exhausted and slept for 10 hours straight.

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House in a mess

In that period, we also got rid of a mountain of STUFF that were not in use or that was superfluous. Boxes went to the local Op shop. In these moments I wished I got rid of the whole house …just dreaming of course. Because I know the moment there is an empty space it will get filled. How easy it is to accumulate! How hard it is to get rid of objects! But we were quite strict and we were elated that a lot of it maybe found a better place.

Can we measure the content of a house with the content of our mind? I am sure it is not far behind at all. The baggage, the packages, the nick knacks, the clothing, the books all represent a life time. A lifetime of memories that weighs on the inside and the outside.

Does one feel a little lighter? Well, on the surface for sure. But, we do carry it all our life inside our mind. A good thing or a bad thing. I am not sure. On the one hand, it is of course necessary to have the knowledge that we have in order to function in our society….In fact a must. On the other there is an innocence, a simplicity, a freshness but that is not enough to function in this turbulent world. The pivotal point is an equilibrium between the two. Not too far in one direction or the other. I wonder how many people can do that? How many people can understand the necessity of one and the beauty of the other. Honestly, I really don’t mind how many. I just hope that I can find solace in my own equilibrium. Is not that the most important adventure? Seeing the function and aligning it with wisdom.

Till next time

 

The lost jewels

Over the last few weeks there have been quite a few robberies in the area and particularly in our street. The residents were alarmed at the speed that valuable were removed. Meeting were organised with the police, residents and the mayor who took seriously that so many people were being targeted over a wide area.

Speculations were rife. Ice, amphetamines or other drugs were pointed as the culprit. Everyone was really edgy and worried if they were going to be next. Many residents started to put video cameras around their house and locking their gate. We did the same. Peter went and bought a combination lock to put on the front gate with a special code.

In the meantime, on Peter insistence and advice , he suggested to me to put away the little jewellery that I had. So, I sorted them into 2 lots. The trinkets and the good ones. I placed the good ones in a place that I thought would be good and the other I decided to hide the other in a place that was obvious to me ( I thought).  Then I forgot about it all.

One day I wanted to put some old earrings . I went to the place where I thought I hid them. Not there. So, I began searching everywhere. I just could not find them . I did room by room to no avail. So I gave up. Then, I thought well, they may have been stolen after all after nearly 3 weeks of searching. I started also cursing Peter for making me paranoid. But that did not bring them back  did they?  Of course I could not rest easy with the whole matter. OK, they are lost so what? They were important after all. Again this was not and easy thought either.  I let it go. It will come back to me one day where I’d put them….May when I am not here anymore I thought, my kids will find them. All sorts of crazy thoughts  run through my head.

Just the other day I was cleaning the guest room and looked at the couple of green woollen blankets that were  there folded on the chair. They have to be moved I thought as our son is coming soon and there was not need for them in summer. I picked up the 2 cushions that were on top to clear the lot and…low and behold the whole stack was there under the cushions. I was jubilating and rushed outside to tell Peter. So, here they were in all their glory. No one had stolen them after all. I put them back on the dresser in our room.

Today as I looked at them again, a funny feeling crossed my mind. I was elated to have them back. But another thought arose why was I so glad to see them there?  What occurred in this split second? I went downstairs where Peter was sitting on the sofa reading the news and share what crossed my mind.

It all occurred in that split second I said. I saw the memories coming back and making me “happy”. Happy to see that these jewels had an importance after all. Memories, of my mother’s in law ambers, Sulma’s present of Sri Lankan river pearls and turquoises from Burma, the silver necklace that I had made in Cambodia on the model of my paternal grandmother. It all came back in a flash and saw the importance of attachments to the past. We are that past and live with it. I do not want to get rid of it but just observed what we are made of as it plays in our everyday living.

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The lost jewellery

That is what we are made of. Memories. Again nothing wrong with that but seeing it opens up a different state of mind. Seeing that in the present moment …that split second was an awareness. An awareness of the past in action. That in itself is a form of liberation, like a burden lifted from your shoulders. Yes, I am that. In accepting it I acknowledge what I am made of. Is it not what we suppose to do as humans? Comprehending our complexity, understanding what we are, how we behave, how we relate.

Now let’s see if I just stopped there and not shared this moment with Peter. I would have wallowed in the feeling of “happiness” relieved at seeing all these objects back…back… where they belonged, satisfied that it was great to possess them again and not give it anymore thoughts. I would have missed the boat and failed to see the other side. The attachments to objects and the weight that they carry makes one heavy. Fear, anxiety, frustration, to name just a few emotions.

Ok, you might talk about the joy of passing on all these things to children, grandchildren and so on and so on…right now  I am not ready to go down that path yet. I might leave it for another time. But I can say this is a lot of sentimentality nothing wrong with that either. It really depends on  what you would make of it…the importance that you give it and the ideas that you construct about heredity and the blood line…and so on…and one more thing, no claim on the insurance either. Oh, that is another topic no?

Till next time.

Remorse…maybe!

I know it has been a long time since I put my fingers on the keyboard to share my thoughts and activities wit the world out there. It has been busy dare I say, or just lazy on my part. But the inspiration did not come at all. The incessant rain, the cold freezing nights did not help or should it have been? I can’t decide at this very moment. My little voice inside says : ‘c’mon you have been lethargic, uninspired and just plain leisurely.’ I will opt for the latter and also for the second one uninspired. Well, what is inspiring now? I truly still can’t say. But here I am. Even if I said above that I was lethargic, that was only regarding the writing. I have not be idle on different levels. The garden as usual has taken its share of pleasure and little work at that time of the year tending to the winter vegetables growing profusely at the moment.

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One of the many cabbages
Fennel
Fennel

I have also knitted a pullover to take with me on our trip to France. I have knitted also countless hats for friends and at the same time listened to many audio books. Organising accommodation and itineraries for our trip. And it has been also a few weeks of constant socialising. Sometimes I wonder if I am really retired. Like I said to Peter, it is worse than our job in Hong Kong. But in a nicer way really. No demands on my time and deadlines. Yes, I am glad to be off  the vicissitudes of a working life. I guess retiring has it advantages as you choose what you want to achieve, and put your attention where you like. Our new puppy dog  Zaina, now just over a year has also been a handful. Very demanding and we sometimes wonder why on earth we got such a large dog. German Shepherd can be formidably exhausting. Wanting to play and spend her boundless energy teasing us and always on the look out for some sort of mischief. Luckily the cat, Fripouille takes care of that by taunting and goading her to play. The two of them running around the garden like lunatic, he climbs up the highest tree and stares at the dog while she whines and whimpers in frustration. Then, it is another gallop at full speed hiding under the car or on top of it while she is not looking. Maybe tired of having her neck stretched up in the air.  He waits till she gives up, climbs down and starts to all over again. Peter and I are stitches. But that is not all. When the day is over the same scenario repeats up and down the stairs, under the bed, behind the curtains waiting for the dog to appear and then springs in front of her nose pawing her or just crawls under an opening of her belly and grabs her fur. The poor dog has not got a chance in the world with those claws. Exhausted they crashed at the foot of our bed. Not really, because Fripouille chooses the comfort of the plush blanket of our bed and he is higher that Zaina.

Fripouille in all its length
Fripouille in all its length
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She stole my chair while I was not looking
Cat on a hot tin roof
Cat on a hot tin roof

Then one day, one of the newly born calves decides to scamper next door and starts bellowing as it can’t get back to its mum. The two of them wails till they are reunited. But in the meantime we are chasing and searching for the calf. Nowhere to be seen. Neighbours on horses and on foot in pursuit of the little one. After a whole afternoon we give up in despair and distressed and leave it to mother nature to take its course. Nevertheless, we know if calves are separated for too long from their mum they can perish. The little blighter was only a few days old.  As one might expects, the next day mother and calf are peacefully side by side. The kind lady Jo, who shares the property with us tells us that she had seen the two together that morning. It was incredible after all the efforts of the day before. The mother cow stands patiently while the young one suckles its heart content no doubt. All our efforts were in vain. That night, we just crashed completely exhausted. So, life goes on with visits from friends, our days volunteering at the gallery, attending the property and the vegetable garden, walking the dogs, feeding the cows and so on. All sounds so trivial, but I can assure you it is far from it as it demands constant devotion and attention. Of course I have not mentioned the marathon cooking, jamming, pickling and cheese making. One thing that we have been experimenting with is our new wood oven.It took a lot of know-how, patience and perseverance to sort out the real temperature and the length of cooking bread in it. The results were worth it but it is so time consuming and frustrating. But the taste of bread cooked in a wood oven is unbeatable in spite of the instability of that mode of operation. We have not given up yet. It will take lots of practice and assiduity to savour a home cooked and home made bread and cooked to perfection.

Home made olives with homemade flat bread
Home made olives with homemade flat bread
Sour dough bread from wood fired oven
Sour dough bread from wood fired ovenYes, that is already a lot.

We are now preparing for our next trip and already the excitation is palpable. France and Thailand here we come. Tho, the readiness is here, there is always the feeling that we are better off in the splendid surroundings of our beautiful farm. I also know that a nice break from it all will be welcomed. So, do I feel guilty for not writing, I must confess …not at all.

Till next time

Winter chill and activities

It has been hard to find a suitable time to put pen to paper or just sitting in front of the computer to wait for an inspiration. But here we are at last. Charged and ready to share a few moments.

Yes, we are on the verge of experiencing the first winter chills. I can see that when I first wake in the morning and see the valley shrouded in the heavy mist, the beams on the veranda are dripping with heavy dew and of course the sun rises much later. The atmosphere is more damp and a chill in the air is definitely present…Woollens are a must in these early hours. The days reach a very agreeable temperature of around 22 to 25. But not for too long as the cold approaches toward 15h..

The wood heater is already burning. The animals: dogs and cat refuse to stay out when the night falls and the chickens go to their perch early. The cows have started to demand their winter ration, the grass is still long and plenty but they are spoiled beasts and bellow as loud as they can as soon as they see one of us. The calves have also started to imitate their mums and the concert gets louder every late afternoon.

it has been a very busy few months. The Gallery is in the middle of its extravaganza and everyone worked very hard to make it happen. Many artists joined us from interstate as well as quite a few local ones. Many works have sold and we are all very proud and happy that it is going so well. After 15 years it has become an icon of the Northern Rivers. We get an average of 300 visits per day. Not bad for our little village! See our Facebook page@Nimbin Artists Gallery.

In the meantime, our son and his partner Tum who live in Thailand have joined us for a week….too short but happy to have stolen a few days together where we enjoyed some superb food as usual. A glorious green curry prepared by them was truly appreciated by 2 of our friends who joined us for lunch one day. And of course very lively conversations ensued as it is usually the case in the family. The beef was from our property, all the ingredients freshly harvested from the garden for the green curry paste, the green papaya freshly picked that morning and the bitter gourd grows wild on the chicken fence. Such a pleasure!

Sulma and Peter had a go at playing their flute and improvise on some jazz tunes. Peter played also some pieces during opening hours at the Gallery. Music has always been part of Peter’s life and the boys.

Sulma and Tum went for a lovely drive with our friend Magali in the rain forest near home where they enjoyed a picnic and a walk around.

Sulma and Tum
Sulma and Tum
Sulma and Peter have a jam!
Sulma and Peter have a jam!
Sulma with Zaina and Elsie in the sun
Sulma with Zaina and Elsie in the sun
Left over Spicy green Papaya Salad
Left over Spicy green Papaya Salad
What was left of the Beef  green Curry
What was left of the Beef green Curry
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Spicy pork and bitter gourd

The garden has not been neglected. Our friend Scott Harrower, has taken to transform the front garden with flair, vision, aesthetic, colours and shapes. It is visually superb now. A feast to the eyes ….and he has cleared up the branches obstructing the large pond which gives to the whole place a sense of depth as the expanse of a water feature always add such a calming touch. Especially when all the purple and cream water lilies are blooming.

We also had the incredible good luck to have hosted for 1 month 2 lovely guys from Vanuatu who have cleared the property, constructed a retaining wall, built a wood shelter and split some wood for winter. Trimmed some mighty bamboos, cleared the chicken run and coop, gravelled the drive with Peter, brush cut around the dam and so many other tasks that I am sure have forgotten to mention. Thanks to Murray and Joel for facilitating the whole process, feeding them, driving them and took them back to Port Vila . They all flew  back to a devastating sight. The mighty cyclone had created havoc in this small town and the surrounding islands. Murray and Joel raised some money to alleviate the plight of the villagers. Joel had not heard from his sister for 2 weeks as she was in the top island of Efate with no means of communications. All is fine now. Food and hospital needs as well as reconstruction materials were a priority. A mighty effort to say the least on their part to have attended to the need of the people of Vanuatu.

Lorrence and Watas on their last day
Lorrence and Watas on their last day
Lorrence enjoying his tea
Lorrence enjoying his tea

In between all the effervescence of these last few weeks I have knitted a baby blanket. No, no babies in perspective. But I might just sell it at the Gallery. While knitting, listening to my audio books from the library made the hours pleasant and a little calmer.

Merino wool 2 ply with crochet borders
Merino wool 2 ply with crochet borders

The winter veggies are under way : Cauliflowers, cabbages, peas, broad beans, fennels, radishes, a few beans and lettuces. I have to wait and make sure that the cabbage moths or white butterflies stay away from them.

I wonder if we will be there to harvest them! A trip is in the pipe line.

Time for drink and dinner!

Till next time

My best friend and a puzzle.

El and Peter in Paris last year.2014
El and Peter in Paris last year.2014

The other day I received a present from a very old friend of mine. We went to school together in Paris and really go back a few decades. In fact she is more of a sister to me than a friend.

We have known each others parents, brothers and sisters. We have been to each others’ house over the years and have shared very intimate thoughts. We keep in touch quite regularly and chat about all sorts of things.

So, as I said above I received a lovely present from her the other day. Of course I was quite touched by the gesture and the intention. She knows my tastes in perfumes and my weakness for some candies that we used to have when we were kids. A special shop in Paris where I used to live (that still exists) stocks the same ones we bought some 40 years ago. A real treat. The owner is no longer alive but his daughter has taken over and sell the same things. The only difference is the prices have shot up something shocking. What we used to buy for a few centimes is now quite a few Euros and really a luxury when you buy a couple of packet that amounts to 20 or 30 Euros. And I did not buy many of them.

So here I am with the parcel that she sent. Inside of course, superb perfume from Fragonard. A very famous perfumery in South of France in Grasse. Candies, and a couple of trinkets. A pumpkin shaped porcelain container and a chicken.  I was in a quandary.  This is not the sort of things that I want to have around the place. Not because I did not like them but because I do not want any more bits and pieces to display around the house. I was elated and at the same time annoyed.

I think it reaches a point in one’s life where we do not want any more gadgets, any more ornaments, any more decorative objects, any more items that you have to move around and about to clean behind them, under them and around them. I do not want to be surrounded with items that are gathering dust. Sure I do appreciate the thought and the expense that she went through, but from my point of view they really have no value except taking room and not really functional.

All this to get to the point of why do we accumulate? Sentimental reasons, souvenirs, memories, momentum. I don’t really know. I guess like my mother in law used to say:” to each his own”. I respect that especially coming from my best friend. I fully realise in the end that it is a gesture from the heart and dear El I am truly grateful that you thought of me and have me in your heart all the time. I did tell her tho, that it was not my favourite trinkets. She fully accepted that. We are too close for me not to tell her what I thought and there is so much between us. I know that you understand me completely. I also know it is very delicate to say that sort of things, I have said it. It took  me a while and I have played with the idea also of not telling you anything. . But it was beyond me and I took courage to be frank. So, I told what was on my mind over Skype. Thank you for being so gracious about it.

Till next time.

 

Early morning

Life on the farm has been busy recently. But that is hardly news really. Awake at at 5Am this morning a cup of tea in hands, I ventured outside. Still dark. White clouds shroud the whole valley and the top of the mountain. Chilly and nippy the cold mist spread on the fields creating an eery feeling of the world just about to wake up. The birds have not yet started and a lonely wallaby bent over the grass chews some unknown delicacies no doubt. Its ears pricked up. Noise, foot steps, am I worried? Yes, just a little. The smell of the dogs does not abode well for it. Shall I run or stay? I will stay for a little longer then will see how the situation develops. The last few bats make their way back to the trees and one can hear their heavy flapping as they rush away from the newly appearing sunlight.

Blue Salvia
Blue Salvia

The sky has the colour of light grey charcoal and the half moon stands out yellowish and full of blemishes while the stars are getting a little fainter with each minute as the light starts to appear slowly over the horizon. Distinct bands of foggy clouds hover now and move slowly across or down till they will disappear with the first rays of the sun. Different picture just from a few minutes ago and ever changing, transforming and continuously metamorphosing.

Invigorating… that little bite in the air. A shawl wrapped around my shoulders I venture in the semi dark morning towards the chicken run. The two dogs trailing behind me wondering what I am doing so early. As I opened the coop, the big and gentle ginger rooster called “Ginger”, flies off its perch and comes next to my feet. He does that all the time when I open the door. He seems to talk and asks me all sorts of questions…a chicken babble which I quickly interpret as: “Do you have any food so early”? Not yet, you’ll have to wait a little while, I am not ready yet, I have to open the little coop where the newly born chicks are still sleeping under their fat mother. Yes, Lady Grey is a little plump. Little chirps can be heard muffled by a load of feathers and little heads appear from under mum. They seem to say “can we go out now”? So, Lady Grey starts clucking and they all make their way out of the coop in search of little insects so early in the morning.

The first birds are on the move and their songs echoes in the valley. Butcher birds, noisy mynas are the first in the morning parade. The dogs have smelled the wallaby and they are giving chase. Not a hope in the world tho! It scoots so fast that the poor dogs are left miles behind. But the chase was worth it. A little excitement so early is not to be missed.

Still cup of tea wrapped around my hands, I decided to meander down the drive for a walk to the pond. The cows were not around at the time, so I guessed they would have been at the back where the grass was greener no doubt. They are not going to miss me this afternoon tho!

Butcher Bird quite at home. Frequent visits
Butcher Bird quite at home. Frequent visits

The water hens have not yet emerged. The lilies are about to burst in flowers and thousands of little fish dance in circles in the clear waters in the pond. The dogs are running and frolicking chasing each other, grabbing some sticks and playing tug of war. Sipping the tea, I can feel the dew on the grass as the morning slowly breaks and to the east the first light shines on the opposite slope… slowly. Such a sense of vastness and serenity. Everything is alive, Away from news and politics, away from scandals and gossips, away from greed and the stock market, the economy, new laws, the internet, Facebook, corruption at every turn, wars in the world. Boy! How much can the mind take? Comparing to the calm and freshness…There is really no comparison. It seems that a part of the world has come to a stop. Just does not exist at this moment. All the noise that clutters your mind during the day appears to have ceased…at least for now. Just silence and a pristine state of being. Just breathing the crisp air that bites your nostrils and is drawn deep into your lungs with every breath. Just to be there and a sense of timelessness engulfs you. Everything seems to melt into one single movement. 

As I make my way back slowly toward the house the first rays of the sun beam their little warmth over the land, just a little cosiness this morning. It is not going to be a very hot day as rain is expected later on.

Dogs in tow, I sit down on the bench and soak it in this unspoiled moment. Not for long, John next door is also an early riser and he decided to slash the property next door. The noise of the old diesel motor makes its way sluggishly up the road to our neighbours and breaks the silence. But it is there and that is all. Part of the farm, part of the scene, part of rural living.

Zaina our latest puppy gives Elsie a hard time. She is fast, mischievous and very playful. Not for poor old Elsie whose labrador nature (she is rather plump) does not make her a sprinter. Given that her back leg is also injured, that does not help. But she stands her grounds and Zaina has to tow the line and obey her elders.

The colours of the trees now are greener and the tall bamboos sway gently in the breeze. I make my way to the vegies garden secateurs in hand that I grabbed on the table and start cutting the dead leaves from the tomatoes. Uproot the dead eggplants that have withered from some unknown disease. Plant a few seedlings of corn and okra and water the newly planted gherkins.

Time to see if Peter is awake. But not before peeping at the rose bushes and seeing that there are a few dead branches that I happily snip away. A few weeds also. But I stop there. It is already 7AM. As I enter the house, I can see upstairs that the curtains have been drawn and yes, Peter is awake checking his emails no doubt or maybe just enjoying the view from the window where the bamboos sway lazily in the wind bending graciously almost touching the ground.

Cup of tea” I shout from downstairs? Yes, he replies. So the water is slowly on the boil and in the meantime I set out to feed the dogs and the cat. Quickly run to the chicken run and throw a few handful of sunflowers for them and coming back just in time for the water to be ready.

Oh! and I forget, I also read a few emails from J who went mushrooms gathering in the woods in England and is preparing a feast for dinner. Time for gym and a nice cup of coffee. The day’s chores and routines are about to get into full swing.

Till next time.

Busy at home

Just a few photos of what I have been busy doing over the last few weeks. This old traditional family recipe has been around for more than 150 years and it is a pleasure to do it. Labour intensive it is. Dates and nuts come into the realisation of it and NO SUGAR. Who needs it with the dates? A real treat with coffee.This is what we called: DESERT NOUGAT. No spelling mistake. It is DESERT.

Old family recipe.
Old family recipe.

Cheese making a real fun project  that I enjoyed tremendously putting together and the taste was just superb.

Blue Vein, Camembert and Feta.

Blue Vein and Camembert
Blue Vein and Camembert

 

In the making
This one is Feta

 

 

 

The process.
The process.

It took some time to realise this jumper. I was craving for a nice green one and here it is.

My green jumper
My green jumper

Peter went out after the rain and collected dozens of mushrooms. We had omelettes and I have incorporated them in a chicken ragout. When our son came to join us last week they collected plenty more. By that stage I did not want to see another one…I became almost allergic to them. Just joking!  All super delicious. We even dried some.

 

Mushrooms collected by Peter.
Mushrooms collected by Peter.

 

The few stages of having a dog. Reflections and observations.

The other day I was just thinking about the different stages on possessing a dog. These are the thoughts that I had. This came to my mind as I was watching our new German Shepherd puppy frolicking round and playing with the cat in the garden. Jumping, chasing, running .

Fripouille and Zaina
Fripouille and Zaina

There are different moods and stages on owning a dog. Especially a pedigreed one.

The first stage, one is proud to be associated with a mighty beast. It gives you a sense of power. Reasserting who you are. The power, the strength of the dog is transmitted to you and you feel the ownership of it all. As you strut on the roads, people admire the dog and your chest pumps up every time you receive a compliment from the people sharing your footpath. The kids also want to pat the dog and you feel friendly and want to show off how lovely your dog is. Power is the first stage that goes to your head.

Time flies. Time changes. The dog is no more. You have given it away because you are moving overseas, going into a flat, or a completely different circumstances forces you to find alternatives for your dog..or simply the dog passes away.

After mulling around for a while thinking will I or won’t I get another dog….you still are not quite sure. We start thinking about getting another one. Will I get a big one again or just a little dog from the RSPCA? Not sure. I leave it for a while…but time is not in my favour and after lots of deliberation… from one day to the next I am the owner of another big beast.

A puppy, yes, but this time the dog has to be trained properly. It has to be obedient and his behaviour impeccable. We are going to work on that one and we do. We take the dog for long walks, sit, stay, hold, heel, down, shake hand and the list goes on. My dog is perfect and the compliments keep on pouring in as we parade in the streets showing how well behave our dog is. An example of well-heeled pedigreed canine. There, there is a mixture of the might of the dog and the pride of having done some nice recognised work. A sense of power with the might of the big dog and the fact that the animal is beyond reproach. Total satisfaction, total identity with the size of the dog, achievement, self-importance and snobbish.

Then, times are changing again and they do change of course as one moves through different stages of life. The perfect companion is no more. Another phase, another moment in one’s existence.

Again after a long time of reflection the eternal question arises. Will I get another one? No, I shall leave it for a while. And one does. But after a few months or just a couple of years, the urge to own another little German Shepherd resurfaces and the hunt starts for a nice one again.

The new puppy is brought home. But something has shifted. Sure we still want the perfect mighty and well-trained dog. After all we always did train and groomed them to be the apple of our eyes. The responses that we had from people were always flattering and encouraging. But, it looks like this time not much importance or urgency is given to any of that. It seems that all the associations that we previously had simply vanished into thin air. Yes, we have the “ferocious GS, but he is just a companion a bundle of energy to be reckoned with. We are more laissez-faire, the training is not rigorous, tho, still the basics are taught. We are not ready to walk down the road with her showing her off. We are just contented to take care another lovely bundle of fun and cherish her.

Zaina and Elsie
Zaina and Elsie

Has something changed in the attitude of possession and pride or is it that we are getting older and all the self-importance has just flown out of the window? Well, I think that both are play.

Till next time.

Day inside

The temperature soared to almost 40o  today.  In fact a friend of mine told me that it was 43o in the village. The dogs did not want to put their nose out and neither did we. So, we sat on the sofa reading. (not the dogs) I did some knitting and listened to my audio book. Even the cat sat all day next to us sprawled eagle. He has the knack for that posture or any other weird positions. Stuck between chairs and perfectly at ease looking at you as if it was normal a for a cat to relax in this way. ( may be it is)

Zaina, quite comfortable there

The aircon was going full tilt and it was comfortable. But I was getting restless and decided to do the artichokes that I bought yesterday at my local supermarket. Every year they order me the best produce . I get some broad beans, quinces and artichokes.  Two cases which amounted to a total of 60. So I peeled them and got to the furry heart, got a huge saucepan full of water and slice a few limes or lemons water is growing in the garden at the time and a big pinch of salt. Tossed all the hearts in the boiling water, left them there for a few minutes and then scooped them in jars. The boiling lemony water was scooped onto the jars and then I tightly seal them. That was my artichokes for next year’s feast.

 

Artichokes and Nectarine

Then Peter told me that there were a few nectarines that needed to be done. Ok said I, you cut them and I will bottle them and make some compote out of them. So, as well as getting my fingers black with the artichokes I managed to slip in a jar of home-grown nectarines. Peter had spent a lot of time taking care of them. Pruning, and wrapping the tree in a heavy mesh so that the rats and the bats would not devouring them first. And it succeeded. We obtained some huge fruits and ever so sweet!

It was a languorous day in every way. Then, around 2PM we decided to upstairs and watch an episode of “Prime Suspect” . I always take my knitting with me and advance my sweater. I quite enjoy in knitting. Many people have told me :” do you knit in summer with this heat” ? I reply: ” it is the best time to have your jumper ready for winter. If I knit in winter it never get finish and can’t wear it on time”. So, I always do it in summer. Especially when the heat is so fierce and there is very little one can do outside. At least in winter you still can dress a little and do some gardening.

Talking about gardening, all my matured eggplants just decided to die. They wilted for some unknown reason as they were just starting to produce fruit and off they went. Dead!

Wilted Eggplant.

Till next time on a not so hot day.