The Tao of Chaos

Hello again.

I have felt a calling back to update on what has been happening. All in all there is too much to tell really. So here is the abridged version.

We have moved. After seventeen and a half months we pretty much dumped ourselves into Tillellan over a weekend in mid January and started a rather chaotic transition into the newly renovated house. After a month now it is starting to look and feel like a home.

The backyard was resembling a war zone. So I am at a loss to describe how it appears presently – much the same, but worse. Just a complete mish mash of timber, late summer dried out garden, animal hutches and sand. Dirty, filthy, grey sand that stains the feet and hands and hibernates deep into the nose and ears. If it could ever still resemble something of a war zone then the pumpkins could be likened to landmines dotting the parched landscape.

We had losses in the move. The quail males were calling relentlessly throughout the night and being much closer to our bedroom than they were previously after about a week the whole lot were dispatched and put in the freezer. It was really messing with my head and sleep. It was not an enviable task, but it was at least part of the reason we got them. We will start again when things settle down and we can look after them properly. I also put a swift end to our three Barneveld roosters and also our last Sussex hen who was not laying and was showing a bit of a limp and slowing down. I did not break this news to the family until after the job was done.

We also lost Ben, our buck rabbit. He was looking old and his hair had started to change. I found him departed one afternoon. There was also much restlessness with the rabbits and guinea pigs and some escapes resulting in deaths. We are more or less surround by dogs and cats and as quick as the young rabbits were, on their second escape they did not return and were found further up the slope. Luna, Blackberry and one of Blackberries offspring are still with us – and safe.

Our guinea pigs also went missing. Some remains found, but otherwise just gone. Our two remaining koi also did not make the journey over, or at least, arrived but died shortly after. None of this really put me in a good space, plus we were losing plants and saplings along the way in the mid-summer heat.

It is actually raining at the moment and seems to be a reasonable shower. The last real rain was a week prior to Christmas. I’m hopeful this shower will top up the tanks a little as we have nearly come to the end of our collected rainwater.

I have often times felt very alone on this journey of transition to the new place and it is not over quite yet. I have been patching and painting the previous house and clearing out all of Pa Prof’s tools and assorted items that we had stored under the house. The garage here now is full of stuff. But we are getting down to the stuff we are likely to keep. And in my frequent moments of DIY I have been so grateful to find the tools and equipment I need.

There have been trips to the Tip Shop, Auction and Scrap Metal yard. There has been further pick-ups from the house as smaller items and pieces of furniture have been sold off. Still it seems the place is bursting at the seems, but there is a real tangible sense that this too will clear and eventually we will have some very much appreciated space.

Mrs PP asked me after dinner one night recently what I had learnt from the whole experience but I did not wish to talk about it. It has taken a lot out of me and I quite frankly feel I have wasted a lot of time just moving stuff around. The one thing that has kept me going is that the location of our new home, the house itself and the garden area are so incredibly remarkable that I have somehow managed to convince myself that the benefits will outweigh the costs. The costs however, have been many, and were we to have simply moved into another home, in another suburb, with another little patch of dirt to garden I couldn’t have talked myself into it. It has been very lonely for me, with moments of pure intolerance and frustration and anger that I am hoping a couple of weeks of meditation, beach swims and sauna will finally permit to lay to rest.

In the meantime I have returned to my practice of Chi Kung and have found it an uplifting way to start the day.

I will return to write more details of how the house is operating now that we are in it and some of the insights that have occurred.

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Tao: (in Chinese philosophy) the absolute principle underlying the universe, combining within itself the principles of yin and yang and signifying the way, or code of behaviour, that is in harmony with the natural order.

More here.

Departure from Chaos

Dear Reader,

If you are a practitioner of the gentle and subtle art of ‘reading between the lines’ you may be interested to know – that perhaps you were right – this blog has become a collision. A mish mash of permaculture practices and personal, daily insights and reflections. At least for now. No apologies, please carry on . . . you may learn from this.

Writing is therapy for me. Permaculture is not just gardening remember. And how wonderfully therapeutic it has been to capture just a small part of what our lives are like. It is the tip of the ice-berg. I am after all, a rather private person. Hence the reluctance to post pictures of myself and family. It may come at some point.

Or not.

Now, the rain came today. A reprieve from hand watering the garden for a while. We were all up early, not that unusual, but Mr DIG (our Distinguished International Guest) was departing for home after his stay with us. Leaving the mild mid-twenties (68-70 F) for the possibility of – 10 (14 F). The lulling, bird song laden breezes of November mornings for darkened Northern Hemisphere mornings and scraping ice off the car windscreen. The silky feel of beach sand between the toes for iced concrete paths and central heating.

I suspect for him it was a departure from chaos. Actually, I KNOW it would have been a departure from chaos. But if he felt any of the moments of peace and serenity that I got a glimpse of during our ventures out, then I suspect he had a good stay. We made the best of our current circumstances. But it was still chaos.

petitparadis rosella

Mr DIG’s visit for me was also a re-awakening to the wonders of the natural world that surround us here in the Great Southern and South West corner of the state and Nation. I was filled with moments of quiet, deep reaching gratitude for the beauty around us. These moments have been few and far between the last couple of years as life has pulled me away with distractions and lack of sleep. Piling more complex distractions on top of distractions. Burying creativity and hobbies and ‘consciousness’ underneath the daily pulse of life. Further down. Away. To avoid the disappointment that comes with having to make sacrifices. Alas, it is not sustainable.

And so as one busy, frantic week begins to merge seamlessly with another we also find ourselves entering December and staring down the barrel of the countdown til Christmas and all the obligations and events that it can bring.

But that is almost an aside to the quickly approaching day that we find ourselves suddenly granted with the opportunity to move into The New Tillellan. And then the fun really begins.

Still, we must enjoy the journey, for after nearly fifteen months, that time will be upon us in a heart beat. And somewhere there, out there, is the hope that life will find a comfortable pace for a while. That the complex distractions will fall away in exchange for simple, up-lifting distractions and more of life’s treasured moments will naturally pass by with a brilliance and lucidness, instead of fighting through fatigue for recognition.

It is time for some sleep. And then the bird song . . .

Home Cooking

petit paradis breakfast

Mr DIG asked me, amidst preparing dinner. . . 

“Do you like cooking then?”

( Dear Reader – Do you like Mr DIG? He asks good questions don’t you think? Makes for diverse blog posts! )

I had to think about it.

“I think so.” I replied.

Though I really wasn’t sure anymore. I used to enjoy it but since the Little Fellas came along – plus Gran with all the challenges that the Taste Monster brings to the table – I really think the answer is more ‘Not so much.’

Then it got me thinking about why this was so. Why I continued.

To which the answer came, because I still want to know what is in our food and what my family is eating.

It takes time, there are dishes and pots and pans to wash and the appreciation from the gathering at the table is more often lacking and instead insulting and damaging to the soul of a home cook. But they are healthy, they do eat most of their meals despite being distracted and eating with their hands from time to time. And I care. And I’m stubborn. In a good way, I hope.

Gran is better off too. Though a recent chicken salad with home made mayonnaise and noodles was so uncomfortable to sit through. She looked disinterested and miserable. She is trying to kill off the Taste Monster and its destructive ways with her blood sugar. But the misery. Oh the misery.

I cook with care and with love, but it’s a hard task at the moment. The immediate rewards are few, but I’m in for the long term gains.

Farmer Wants A Life

“The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”
― Bill Mollison

This may not be a new observation, but it’s new to me.

As customers of our local farmers market we have noticed the phenomena of the natural transition.

An aging farming population are now wanting to scale down or sell out altogether. I can’t blame them. But who is going to step up and take over the running of the farm or primary produce operation? There doesn’t appear to be many takers.

In dinner table conversation the topic has come up a few times and I’m sure Mrs PP has mused over the notion of taking on some sort of enterprise with  the attraction of the lifestyle, the healthy living, the rural location. Frequently I hear ‘it’s such a wonderful lifestyle.’

I’m musing over the notion of working 7 days a week, continual maintenance of farm equipment, searching out new markets and maintaining current ones, managing the family & Gran whilst living out of town (potentially a significant distance), early starts on weekends to get to the farmers market (and trying to visualise who would be doing most of this)…

 

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Free Hay on offer because of rain damage and flooding to the paddock.

 

I want to be more Dad than Taxi Driver. In regional Australia the travel distances can be Long & Far!

Mr PP

We are struggling at the moment with all that having a family involves. There is no time dedicated to the running of our garden and tending to the animals. It kind of happens in fits and starts. I feel like I have to battle to get things planted in time due to all the other distractions in our lives. To my mind farmers have the luxury of having time to do this. Afterall, it’s their job. But making hay while the sun shines or planting out the next crop TODAY often doesn’t happen, because LIFE is happening. If this our current situation – I cannot even imagine depending on our efforts on the land for an income – especially given we’d want to farm as naturally as possible.

The vision for Tillellan is quite adequate enough for the present time. Feed ourselves (and animals), family and others. This is still really in the pipe-dream stage, but we are gradually making progress on the first stage given that the second garden is providing some greens and starting to set a nice crop of pumpkins. Further establishment of new garden beds and some supplementary aquaponics set ups will enhance this.

We also wanted to position ourselves in town to lessen travel in the car, especially while the Little Fellas are going through school and doing extra curricular activities. I want to be more Dad than Taxi Driver. In regional Australia the travel distances can be Long & Far!

But the potential problem of valuable farming land already under good farming practice and management slipping away or falling back into ‘traditional farming’ is a concern. Our own solution at this stage is to take more responsibility for our own food production and to support these farmers where we can by utilising our local Farmers Markets or visiting the farm gate sales.

 

Further reading:

Farmers calling it quits

Tasmanian Farmer Numbers dropping

 

 

The Salvation of Less

In life there are objects. And there is space.

I am currently rediscovering a fascination and attraction to the space between objects.

Periodically, as time permits, we return to a space of creating space.

The selling continues as we reduce the items surrounding us. Gradually we whittle down the list of possessions and still there seems to be more coming out of the woodwork! As though the very vacuum of space is pulling in more items to fill it. Phenomenal.

Each week more stuff leaves the house. It boggles my mind. “When will it come to an end?”

We have met some really lovely people as they drop in to pick up items. Some are on a similar journey to us, renovating older homes and looking for unique pieces. We certainly have some unique pieces, but not everything is going to have a place in the house. We are also sensitive to the fact that much of the stuff we do have – and cherish – is possibly going to be handed down. I have to keep thinking whether this is something that is going to burden our children or will they pass them over.

With this in mind, the Muse of Serendipity has introduced me to the concept of döstädning. Rapidly doing the rounds on-line as Swedish Death Cleaning.

It is apparently something of a tradition in Sweden that implores you to stop asking yourself if something sparks joy, and start considering how your clutter will affect your loved ones after you pass on. Evidently it is something usually started when you reach your 50’s.

Death cleaning isn’t the story of death and its slow, ungainly inevitability. But rather the story of life, your life, the good memories and the bad. The good ones you keep. The bad you expunge.

— Margareta Magnusson

Swedish Death Cleaning would have saved me a lot of time and money and grief.

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