Take what the day gives

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No pretty blog pics here. Raw chaos. Photoshop not included.

From time to time I briefly observe the remarkable sights of other peoples blogs and websites. It’s both an experience of awe and total disenchantment to me. Awe at others endeavours and successes. Disenchantment on reflection of our own current state of utter chaos and the relentlessness of working through the mundane list of chores that line the path to the flicker of hope, the glimmer of the shiny vision of what could be – if we keep going. It’s a grand vision. It has to be. I would have stopped years ago otherwise.

Will it be worth it?

Probably not. Not unless we remain committed to sticking to the plan.

With each day, I know I have to take what the day gives. To continue to work through the new distractions, the fatigue, the days I get up early and go to my day job. There is often so much more happening in and around our home life that I joke to people that I go to work in my spare time. I take inspiration from such blogs as The New Good Life, Growing with Plants, the realness and down-to-earth postings at Much More Mulch.

The day to day observations and captured images of Tony Tomeo take me beyond our own little emerging paradise and remind me of my travels. Of the world that lies out there beyond our little forming paradise.

I realise that much of the disenchantment I feel stems from seeking order and organisation. Natural beauty. All the while being surrounded by visions to the contrary. A seemingly ever-increasing list of jobs to do. To work through. I’ve been through this landscape of lists before and I’ve overcome them. I was however, never prepared for the magnitude of what it would take for this current endeavour or the time it would take. Let alone navigating through it while raising two young boys and in contrast, managing the requirements of my Mother-in-law.

At any rate, when the days work is done I reflect on what has gone before. I wouldn’t say it feels rewarding. It’s just the subtlest feeling of moving closer that mildly satisfies for now. Scattered through the day are moments when the notebook is taken from my pocket and scribbled with ideas, dreams, sketches and reminders of goals being worked towards.

The Notebook is proof that something other than present circumstances are at work. The ideas captured within are reminders that I’m in for the long haul.

Why the Chickens crossed the Road

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Why? Because they just weren’t getting looked after to the respectable level of care that they deserved.

And so it was that Mrs PP found a new home for the four remaining chooks. I did not feel they were getting an improved level of lifestyle along with us and the rabbits. So in gifting them away to a better place we have reduced our food expenditure, increased a bit of available time and created a bit of extra space to shift resources in the back yard to begin to set up the garden according to the plans and designs I have been tinkering with. Once we have a proper area once again set up for chickens we will get some more without delay.

It seemed the right thing to do and the appropriate thing to do.

Sauna

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Mrs PP writes:

The Sauna is the best thing I have ever bought with money, ever. I love how it smells. I like the warm embrace. I love how it feels – the smooth, silky cedar wood. I love the dry heat that reminds me of hot summer childhoods in the WA wheat belt. I love the calm solitude from the crazy, noisy life outside that door.

I noticed recently that you can see the full moon outside the window at certain times of the year. How lovely it is to sit and appreciate life and the world from a little cave.

Science is of course backing up the regular use of a Sauna, proving some health benefits to it. This is particularly amusing given the Finns and other cultures have been using Sauna for thousands of years.

As part of our goals to have a more sustainable lifestyle, the electric-stove ‘dry’ sauna seems a bit of an oxymoron. It forms however a part of our goal for a healthy lifestyle and is a traditional sauna with an electric element powered by solar.

We have looked at our power bills and studied what it would take to have an 8kw “energy-leach” attached to the house. The answer was in a 5kw solar photo-voltaic (PV)system that would theoretically provide energy during the day to the house and feeds back into the grid. So far it appears to be handling the load. We are contemplating a future battery storage which will be equipped to handle this large power drain from the sauna.

The other change we are putting in place is to have most of our saunas during daylight hours (energy producing hours), this way the majority of the energy drain is on the PV system, not on the grid.

sauna window pp

 

April Update 2018

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The front walls and earthworks. February.

How the year is moving by. . .

 

I have been working steadily to complete our last remaining room of the house – the utility room or mudroom. Once I get it completed we can start to move the items that are stored on the back verandah and get some resemblance of normalness occurring. Plus we can more conveniently store our preserving and gardening items and make some room in the garage. Which is one of the next projects.

After ten or so years we are down to a garage full of items – the equivalent of sorting about 3 1/2 houses worth of STUFF. I still have a couple of ute loads of items to send to auction but it is getting there. The auction has been great as it gets things out of the house and we get a cheque each week (for the mortgage!) once the items sell. It takes a lot of fuss and bother out of the whole thing. Facebook and ebay are much too bothersome at this stage and with our lifestyle to concern ourselves with. Other items have been passed on to special friends with Grans consent and blessings. Hooray!

Gran has been getting out more due to a reassessment of her activities and requirements and making a few changes. The path to the front drive-way has been completed as has the drive-way itself which has made things a lot easier. We have lightly mulched the front gardens to keep the sand down and yesterday I planted the roses that we have had in pots for nearly eighteen months, if not more. I was not sure where they would go, but the front gardens will be tended less frequently, get lots of sun, are mainly just sand and would do best with less maintenance. As a result the roses have gone in along with some butia palms and succulent ground covers. I’ve wanted to keep the theme of the garden relevant to the house and the neighbouring houses but still plant useful plants. A walk through a bunch of flowering roses on the way up the path will  be nice for Gran.

The rabbits have  been moved onto the first completed half of the raised garden bed and are doing a great job of manuring the garden. I’m not happy with the chickens setup at the moment so that is due to change. The coop is not easy to get to which means they get more neglected than the rabbits.

The garden itself has become a jungle of the highest fat hen you are ever likely to come across in your life.

The days are of course getting shorter now, noticeably so. The air is cool to crisp at night and the days are usually sunny and quite warm and the winds drop down to gentle breezes. I never really had a favourite time of year until I moved to Albany. Autumn is something special here.

Having said that, there is the faintest whispy pink clouds revealing themselves at sunrise which may mean some showers today. But not always. . . the day is shaping up to be like yesterday. Almost perfect.

Other jobs around the place which have been completed have been:

  • a new letterbox in keeping with the new house.
  • sanded and sealed the front deck and mudroom floor (which was originally part of the original sleep-out of the house).
  • fishing gear all sorted (and discarded or mended) thanks to Pop. I plan to take the boys fishing more often.
  • still steadily preparing the other house ready for selling, in my spare time. . .

Soon I hope to start making some of our first evaluations of the systems we have in place and how they are working or what we would change.

 

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.

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