Thursday, October 30, 2008

Permaculture group and Basketweaving

The first meeting of Shoalhaven Permaculture Network was a hit. There were over 30 people (I was hoping for 15-20) and everyone was keen to keep coming and make the group work. I invited everyone to introduce themselves and we had people who have been gardening for over 60 years to one lady who is gardening for the first time and has one tomato plant (That's her at the back right of the photo.) I gave a brief introduction to Permaculture and then people broke up into small groups to discuss and brainstorm what they wanted the group to look like.

It was interesting that the groups all had very similar responses, looking at continuing with the idea of a monthly meeting, and planning weekend workshops to get practical skills shared.
For me it was encouraging to see the interest, as it confirmed my feeling that there was a need for a group like this in my area. Both for people already living this way to share things with each other and for those who want to learn to do so.

That's my grandpa in the centre of the photo. He is my inspiration, he was famous in Canberra for his front yard garden, and producing food in my backyard was never a strange concept thanks to him. My grandparents are holidaying in one of the coastal villages near my town, so he came along to support me.

This week I also spent an afternoon with a friend to learn the basics of basketweaving. The one above is hers not mine, and I was so grateful to go out, and to make a new friend. Her and her husband are so inspirational, living a simple life, choosing to work jobs that make them feel excited and working for themselves as well.

This one is my creation. It is now finished, but I didn't take a photo so I'll add that in a future post.

And lastly Elhi, in her studio/sunroom. I have been madly weaving since, and feel a walk to the nature reserve near my house coming on to collect more supplies, I think I'm hooked!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Colour inspiration

These roses are so rich that they almost look fake.
They are heavenly to smell, and I think I could almost eat them...
The rose bush is as old as the house I imagine, and I've always wanted these roses in my garden.

They make me smile.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A very Gardening Saturday

I had a wonderful weekend, visiting some friends (and their gardens).
Firstly thankyou to Sue, who came and found me at the Markets so that I could come visit her. Sue and I are both part of Aussies living simply, and it was great to meet her and her husband and see their garden and their home.
They have the most amazing stockpile, inside they have dried foods (they have adapted fowlers jars to vacuum seal their dried fruits and veges) bulk rice, groceries etc. They have bulk wheat which they grind themsleves for bread and scones in an electric mill. Under the house is the cellar with the bottled food.
They had a shed which they lived in while building their house, this was the preserving area, with converted shelves to hold hundreds of bottling jars, fowlers and pressure canning units, dryers and more.
Then the garden, which was full of food. They grow much more than they can eat and give the surplus to the local meals on wheels group. Her husband has a shed full of old engines and toys. I was so impressed I almost asked if they would adopt me. :)
Sue's Stockpile. Fruit, veges and soups. (She can bottle veges and meat as she has an american pressure canner, which can cook foods at much higher temperatures.

Sue's Garden, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, onions, broad beans. She has runs for the chooks, areas for berries that is netted in and an orchard.
What an inspiration! When I grow up I want to be like her.
Also on Saturday I went to Feedback, a gardening group based in Nthn Shoalhaven. They were wording on establishing a permaculture garden at a rural property that had recently been completed.
There was a large group, adults and children, and the garden was almost done by the time I arrived with my gift of banana trees and lebanese cress for the garden. We finished up the work and then went for a bushwalk.

The creek we crossed to enter the property, there was a causeway to get over.

The landscape was a mix of open paddocks and pristine rainforest. Some of the group are keen bushcare volunteers and were pointing out plants and picking up weeds to destry.

Imagine this for a view out your loungeroom window!

And sunsets like these....
Tempting, but I do love my house, and my crazy community.
After the walk we had a pot luck dinner, delicious with homemade sushi, dolmades, salads and curries. Thanks Janet for inviting me, I'll definately be coming back!
Lastly, I'll add in a photo from Sunday...

I went to my workmate's for lunch and after we ate, her husband decided to sew a cover for his new camera lens, I couldn't resist a photo!
Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A fun night out, and a beach trip

The other Friday was my back fence neighbour, Allison's birthday. We had a BBQ with friends from church and then headed out to the local! Berry Pub. It was Karaoke night, and I made my debut public performance. It was much easier than singing at church, all you do is stare at a tv screen and sing.

Alison, the bday girl and SJ posing for the camera!

SJ is a work colleague of my friend's who came to stay for a week. Only problem was my friend had to back to work sat and SJ didn't start til tues. So Saturday pm I took SJ out to the beach. By the time we got out there it got cloudy so I swam alone while SJ walked along the beach. Then we went to the opening of a friend of mine's art exhibition and on the way home I took her to a local museum that has a mangrove boardwalk which is really nice.

The reflections are amazing and as we were walking the tide was coming in and all the fish swimming around the boardwalk. (Mangroves have arial roots that stick out, and it was amusing to watch the fish try to swim and keep running into the roots)

SJ and I on the boardwalk. (The sun had decided to make and encore appearance)

As we were driving into town some friends rang and said they were going out to Huskission (where we had just been) for dinner, so we dumped my car, got in theirs and went back out for a lovely dinner by the water, and dropped in on one friend's dad's bday party on the way home. We told them it was to use the pool table, but really it was for the pavlova!

Whilst in the poolroom however, we came across this beautiful portrait of my friend!

Note that my friend is 29 - we were very impressed.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Local dinner

Have been enjoying meals from the garden lately. Not 100%, but all the greens, and all the eggs, and now some fruit. I have harvested 3 paw paws and one more to go! They stayed green all winter without growing or anything, and finally now are ripening.

Harvest of broad beans, snow peas, pawpaw and eggs!
The Pawpaw was delicious with yoghurt and honey - all organic.

I enlisted my brother's help cutting the salad, it was a vegetarian meal as his girlfriend doesn't eat meat.

Lastly, I had to bring a baby photo to work recently, and because I was the only person with a colour baby photo, I took a photo of my photo and printed it on black and white. I succeeded in confusing most of my workmates. Thought I'd share the photo with you. See, I was cute back then too!

Monday, October 13, 2008

What to do with a swarm

I was at my friends in Sydney on the long weekend, and while I was there I was able to see the process of rehoming a swarm of bees in a new hive.

I didn't know that generally each spring a new queen is born and the colony divides and becomes two. The group that swarm generally swarm in a nearby tree, and whilst swarming are reasonably placid. If you don't get them into a hive they continue to swarm and can pose a danger to neighbours, so you have to get them quick.

My friend's dad here is packing the smoker, using pine needles he collects while working on his bush regeneration sites.

My friend Clarissa is preparing the sheets for the new hive, with prepared beeswax attached to the hives for the bees to build up and fill.

Once suited up, remove a sheet from an existing hive above the queen excluder thingy (the honey in the sheet gives the swarm incentive to move in and make themselves at home.) An new sheet is put in to replace it.

Now climb up the tree (this is a persimmon tree) and cut off the branch with the swarm on it. Carefully descend the ladder. My friend's son is the one handling the bees, he is learning the skills from his grandfather and the new hives will be his. It's great that the skills and traditions are being passed on.

Now get the branch over the new hive and shake them in (note it's an up and down action rather than side to side - the aim is to get them in the hive not on the grass) Look for signs that the queen is in by looking for bees flying into the hive as well as out through the base.

Get the lid on and congratulate yourselves on a job well done. I took photos and later Persimmon cuttings, and tried to avoid the bees. lol. They were actually quite placid.
It was a lot of fun, but I think my yard is too small for bees so I will leave them up at Illabunda and just put in my order for honey :)

What hasn't lost value

Looking at all the financial reports it's easy to become fearful, to retreat from community, to worry about the future.

At church on Sunday my pastor made a really great point. He said that this week (while his stocks were losing value) he made a list of all the things that hadn't lost value that week. Here's some of his list, and some of my own.

A life hasn't lost value this week.

The power of the cross and it's salvation hasn't lost value this week

Family hasn't lost value this week.

The importance of friendship hasn't lost value this week.

The encouraging power of a hug hasn't lost value this week.

The impact a thankyou card can have hasn't lost value this week.

The beauty of creation hasn't lost value this week.

The joy of eating a meal from my garden hasn't lost value this week.

Living a simpler life or living a life of faith means that you live according to a different economy than the one dictated by Wall St. I am affected by that one, but I am not rich or poor because of how much money is in my bank. I am rich when I have friends and family that I love and that love me. I am rich when I walk through my garden and pick food for a meal. I am rich because I can see the sunset, and swim in the ocean. These are the things that bring me peace and joy.
What for you hasn't lost value this week?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Visiting Friends

Lanterns catching the sunlight

I need to do a few posts to catch up on my weekend. It was a long weekend here, I think for Labour day so I headed up to Sydney to catch up with friends and family. First stop was Thirroul, north of Wollongong to visit Sharon, a friend from youth group days. We had lunch and caught up and I had to share this photo of her studio with you. I must get my back sunroom to look like this.

From there I headed up to Sydney and had dinner and stayed the night with my aunt. We cooked a delicious baked dinner, and watched a movie, then chatted until we were falling asleep.

In the morning I went to my old church, Sydney Christian Outreach Centre. So nice to catch up with lots of people. With travelling and buying a house, I haven't been there for almost a year, so there were babies running around that were in tummies last time I was there, and a few girls who are definately grown up into young women now! Best was to catch up with my closest friends, Angie and Miranda.

Angie and I at Parramatta Lake

Sunday afternoon I spent with Roberta, a gardening friend over a cup of tea and checking out the changes to her garden. Thanks Roberta for the pepino, tansy, sweet potato, rosemary and rocket cuttings.

Stayed the night with Miranda, her sister and their housemate, and then headed over to Clarissa and Eric's in the morning. Clarissa is another gardening friend and has been caring for one of my old chickens, Speckles since I moved to Nowra. Speckles had been working for her keep as a show chicken, going along to permaculture displays to help teach people that they can keep chickens at home.
Recently Clarissa contacted me to say that some of the other chickens have been picking on (well actually pecking on) Speckles. So as my chook tractor is now functional the intention was to take Speckles and another bantam back with me.

Rebecca and Penguin (approx 4 weeks old)

We also enjoyed a local lunch. Bread from the bakery down the road, eggs lettuce and tomatoes from the garden. Capsicum and cucumber from a friend of my who grows locally as well. Delicious. After lunch we went over to visit Illabunda, a property owned by Clarissa's parents which is being developed into an eco village.

When I was living in Sydney I would help take tours around the property during open days, and there was a giant clumping bamboo which they planned to cut out the middle and make into a kids cubby house.

One year down the track, me in the bamboo house. It's really magical. If I only had the space.

While we were at Illabunda we also dealt with a swarm of bees, we not necessarily including me. But that's for another post. After picking up some plants from Clarissa's garden and going to Permaculture Sydney West, I drove me and the chookies home, and went to bed. I think I need a holiday.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Councilor Brumerskyj

Well, my brother is officially a coucillor. This is him sitting in his seat at the council table (for USA it's local government, I think equal to Alderman) He has wanted to do this for 2-3 years and was the mayors running mate which helped his campaign.

The mayor is the guy in robes, and is an old friend who used to work with the youth group of another church in our area that my church had a lot to do with (ie our youth group would show up with water bombs and attack their youth group)

To his left is my pastor, who as the head of the local Minister's group was called to robe the mayor and pray for him. Turns out local councils are based on the bible, when Moses appointed 12 judges to look after all the civil matters of the people!

And this is my brother and Mum, very proud of her son!

Congratulations Bohdan.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This is our local art's centre, comprising 4 galleries, art teaching rooms, studios and a community radio upstairs. Last week was the opening of wood:wool:clay an exhibition of the local pottery woodwork and spinners and weavers.

Now I must confess. I was meant to have artwork in this exhibition, but completely forgot to take it in on the day it was supposed to arrive. Luckily I walked past the gallery during my lunch break on the day of the opening and so remembered to go.

These gorgeous shrugs are handspun and knitted by Yuriko. Shes a member of at least two of the groups and I think won the prize for the most exhibits. Aren't they gorgeous!

This is a spider web and it is knitted (the spider was needle felted.) It was amazing to see these be knitted at a recent meeting, although the display did cause some controversy, some people feeling it was a bit modern and something more traditional should be placed as the centrepiece of the exhibit. I loved it, and the way light was used cause gorgeous shadows on the wall.

I'll put my stuff in next years exhibition. Hopefully have some weaving by then too!