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.

Petit Paradis in Collage

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The Eighth instalment of our annual bit of artwork tracking the Two Little Fellas.

This year, on a whim, our youngest Little Fella takes the stage given that he’s played smaller roles in previous pictures and I loved how he embraced his nature playground in the garden – quite literally.

Over the years friends and family have wanted to know a bit of the story behind the artwork so this is a little about this years . . .

In the New Year we will move to Tillellan, the long-term project that is finally nearing completion. The landscaping and backyard will be a project within its own right. In anticipation of the move this years art features some of the elements of the original petit paradis abode.  A kind of thank you and goodbye for our first family home.

This place has seen several families of guinea pigs and chickens pass through it. It was pivotal in my adventures in seed saving and building up varieties, quantities and experience in locally adapted edible species. As a result, much of the growing space was for seed production and really only supplemented our kitchen from time to time with food. Moving to Tillellan we plan to accommodate both requirements.

There was a whole lot I could have put into this picture, but some of the highlights are the Pitaya flowers that made a showy display the last couple of autumns. Our eldest Little Fella is feeding Pinky, Brownie and Missy Miss – some of our current guinea pigs. Our original g-pigs Maiki & Jazz can be found in the picture as well along with various pet chooks that have been on the adventure also.

One of the favourite things about the house that I will miss is seeing the flocks of ibis and pelicans flying past the house on their way out to feed or returning home in the afternoon. Quite regularly we’ve had a half dozen or more pelicans glide low and slow over the houses and past our living area window in the early morning. It is a magical site, especially when they are low enough to hear their wing beats, and I missed it when we rented briefly so I know I will when we move.

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There are various flowers and the quail, some of our container gardens and goldfish and koi. Fruit trees and crops that we’ve had. The garden itself was different with every passing year as it adapted to the needs and requirements of the family and whatever we were doing in preparation for the eventual move. Whether it was sorting out salvaged resources or propagating varieties of plants.

It will be a little sad I imagine to part ways, but we’ve also out-grown it rapidly and its very much a natural transition for us. It would have been just right with the Two Little Fellas, but with the addition of Gran and her various requirements we’ve definitely overstayed.

Refuge

Ultimately we need to recognise that while humans continue to build urban landscapes, we share these spaces with other species.

                                                                                                                          – David Suzuki

With the renovation of Tillellan and the clearing of the back of the block we have taken over stewardship of a part of the family history and a piece of urban land that despite its urban-ness, prior to the clearing of the block, was a real refuge and welcome habitat for local animal species.

Gradually these have started to return despite the fact that the earth is still relatively ‘bare’ to my standards. We have nearly accomplished a temporary  ‘skin’ over the ground of various edible plants, weeds, groundcovers and of course kikuyu. This will hold the sand in place until the next phase of development – hopefully to come early next year. In  the meantime the creatures have begun to return. Insects and birds were some of the first, although the birds are still moving through the garden area rather than living in it as such.

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The King Skinks never really departed. They took shelter under the house during the extensive renovations and eventually set up residence in the various piles of salvaged timber and rocks. They are increasing in numbers which did occur as a curious thing. We only really had a few living under the house previously, but talking to one of the neighbours he revealed that he used to catch them and relocate them to the golf course down the road. He quit doing that some years back, so it now makes sense that the local population in the backyard has grown and we are actually seeing young skinks around the place.

As the vegetable garden grew and created a small jungle I started to notice a Western Green Tree Frog had also taken up residence. Probably after being kicked out of a previous home during a bit of clearing near the neighbour’s boundary. Also known as the Motorbike Frog due to the male’s mating call sounding much like a motorcycle changing up gears in the distance.

Next came the bobtail or Blue-tongued Lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) It also took up residence amidst the rockery where the morning sun hits early and there is plenty of nooks to hide in.

The current bird list for the block can be found here.

Over time we will no doubt see more and more life return to the garden as specialised pockets of land begin to take form and attract specific species.

Summer Sunflowers

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The new garden is struggling at the moment. Bouts of hot weather and wind interspersed with showers of miniscule rain. In between other duties I have chopped and dropped some of the fat hen and other ‘weeds’ to mulch around the edibles that are fruiting.

The sunflowers are opening and in the morning sun are magnets to bees and brilliant in their colour. A simple joy. An inspiration to grow a whole heap of them next summer!

Poulet Poulet

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Isn’t she lovely? Our little chick chooks are growing up fast and their typical Barnevelder plumage is just starting to creep in. They will be beside themselves when we move them to the new garden.

These little ladies will have an ample work load when they finally make it to Tillellan. In the meantime they have been scratching up a party in the backyard and really having a good bug hunt in the garden. The advantage of these chickens, so I am told by Mrs PP, is that the chicks are easily sexed at a young age. This being the case, the three tall standing Emu-like creatures among them are probably future roosters. It’s a heads up I guess.