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14 July 2008

When nothing is plenty

I get the impression sometimes that a few of my friends here think I'm a bit of a saint, and that I selflessly work from daylight to dusk to provide my family with their needs. While there is an element of truth in that statement, there are times when all I want to do is nothing.

And that is what I did do on Saturday.

It was a cold and gloomy day and I started off replying to a few emails but there were so many I gave up and organised my desk instead. That didn't feel right either so I looked around for something to do - it was still dark and I wanted to work in silence - I found my knitting. It was then I decided that it was time for a day off.

I made porridge for breakfast, I made bread and soup for dinner, I made the bed, but that was all I did. The rest of the day I swanned around taking photos, reading, knitting and napping. I am better for it. I feel refreshed and ready for everything now. It is surprising just how good a day of nothing feels.

That is Rosie on the left. She is watching Rosetta who has decided that she much prefers the company of dogs and humans to that of her sisters. She's a funny chook and Hanno spoils her by carrying her around and letting her sit INSIDE the grain bin. Yes, inside the bin. She scratches around in there picking out pieces of choice grain and when she has her fill, she flies out and wanders around with Alice and Rosie.

Hanno did his own cooking on Saturday. It was his kale and pork day and he made up a big pot of it, enough for about five meals. It slotted in perfectly with my workless day. Here he is on the back verandah with Alice. Hettie, our cat, is asleep behind him on the green bench.

He is inspecting each leaf of kale for bugs. He then strips the green off the stalk and places it in another bucket. When the whole lot is done, he takes it inside for washing, chopping and cooking.

Like many men, Hanno has his meal favourites and kale and pork is the food he loves most in Winter. It reminds him of living in Germany, and his mum, and I think the smell of it cooking during the day and the memories that invokes is as much a part of the experience as sitting down to eat is.

It's a good experience for me too. I love to see the process of vegetables being harvested, prepared fresh and made into good healthy food for the table. It's not so much the single elements of gardening and how we live that I enjoy, it's the connection of all those elements that make it into something more - that is what gives me pleasure and satisfaction. Of course it's a wonderful thing to see vegetables growing in a garden but when you see those vegetables used for their purpose, when they are harvested and cooked to provide nutrition; that connection of elements is what is significant. The completed circle, combining our skills with what we are able to produce in the backyard, that is what makes my life a joy. That, and knowing we can do it.

We have recently spread our food production from the backyard to the front. We have been growing two avocado trees in the front garden, and have at times grown tomatoes there, but now we've moved up a notch and have planted potatoes along the front drive. You can see them in this photo as they've just started to show their green tops in the straw mulch.

We are lucky to have the amount of land we have. It's not huge by any stretch of the imagination, we have an acre, but it is certainly enough to provide us with the food we need. We are also blessed with the amount of rainfall we get. If we are prudent, we can harvest enough water from our roof to enable us to continue growing food, and to provide enough fresh water for ourselves, the chooks and animals. Being self sufficient in one of the things we must have is very empowering.

I wonder though if, with climate change, that will remain as it is. Australia is in the midst of the worst drought in our history and we are reminded of that fact every day as our state government is currently building a huge pipeline to carry water from our local dams into our capital city, about 100 kms south. That pipeline is being built quite close to our home and although we can't see the work being carried out, we can hear trucks working every day. It's a powerful reminder that we are all responsible for the harvesting and storage of water on our own properties and that when we have more than enough, and even when we don't, we share what we have.

I hope you have a wonderful week. I am moving into this week with a feeling of optimism and joy. I hope you feel something similar in your own life and that we all look back on this week as a good one.


  1. Oh yes Rhonda we all need a day like you had. Even with being home there always seems "the next thing" to do. You did a wise thing. Good for you.

  2. Sounds like you had a lovely weekend. I was very busy but am looking forward to a restful weekend next week! My garden is going great guns right now and it's hard to keep up with all the weeding, harvesting, etc. But, I enjoy the process and LOVE the food we grow. At least I know where it comes from! Blessings to you and Hanno!

    Kristina in Nebraska

  3. Great post as always. I have days like that as well.

    Gill from Canada

  4. Saturday sounds just perfect to me Rhonda. I'm working on taking time out to do nothing but I'm not that good at it YET! My sister is very good at napping if she is tired or just stopping for awhile and it certainly seems to benefit her and she still always manages to do all that needs doing.
    My motto lately has been to remind myself that we are human BEINGS not human DOINGS! Baby steps like everything I guess.

    cheers Kate/Lenny

    ps I'm glad that you have decided to continue to be so sharing of your lifestyle with us.

  5. Hi Rhonda and I must say I love reading your blog everyday. I'm in Canada and must chuckle when I hear about your winter day that you find cold. Cold for me here in our winter is anywhere from -20 celcius to -40 celcius.
    I'm with you on the needing a relaxing day here and there. Keep up the great blogging and I love hearing about your day and all your helpful hints on having a simple life.

    Laurie in Calgary Alberta Canada

  6. I too have had a "nothing" day to re charge my worn out batteries and feel all the better for it. I am now back to making lists and plans.

  7. What a lovely way to spend a day. These are the kind of days that nourish my spirit.

  8. Rhonda, what a wonderful post. So much like a visit with a dear friend. We are near the same age but I feel you are my friend/mentor. So many things I want to learn and I am but oh so slowly with teaching and selling the rental homes for my mother's nursing home care. I love the embroidery that you share and hope to do some soon. Thank you for sharing your life it helps me to be calm about the future.

  9. Dearest Rhonda,
    I am also wishing you a week filled with love and joy.
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us.
    Blessings to you my friend and hugs to your girls,

  10. Hi Rhonda, Great post! Something I have learned over the past four years (since going into business and working so many hours) is the importance of me time. I interact with women every day in our business and find that so many of us just keep on working and looking after our families but not ourselves. In fact so many women I meet don't think they have time for themselves but really it is just a matter of saying (like you did) today is for me, the housework/family will still be there tomorrow! At work I love seeing the difference in women's lives after they start making time for themselves - less stress & worry, so many more smiles! Have a fabulous week, Tamara :)

  11. Rhonda, kale and pork is part of my memory and heritage as I am also German-born. If I remember correctly, my mother made it with pig's feet. That doesn't seem appealing to me now at all, but the kale still does.

    I'm glad you had a restful and refreshing day.

  12. Reading your comment about harvesting rainwater - including for human consumption. I have just installed a waterbutt - primarily for wating my teensy bit of "foodgrowing" - but am looking to save on my metered water (and cope with any unexpected water emergencies) - so what way do you "clean" your harvested water before you use it for your own consumption please? (Also wondering if its okay for me to do this - as mine gets into my waterbutt via upvc guttering/pipes.



  13. I felt much better today, it was sunny and warm. Lovely post. It made me think more seriously of water tanks for us.

  14. Rhonda I love kale and having it in Caldo Verde is the most divine experience for me (Portuguese potato and kale soup). Yep, my heritage is Portuguese peasant; wide hips, frugality and simple but tasty foods :)

  15. What a beautiful post :)

    My week has started well too as I feel a real sense of achievement following last week's big step towards being fitter again. After four months of being practically bed ridden and only gradual improvements, getting back on top of things last week has strengthened my optimism.

  16. Nothing like a day of rest! Sundays are our typical Sabbath day where we stay home and relax (nap, play in the yard, read, etc.). Our bodies so need time of rest. Yay for you, Rhonda!

    Nicole in Ohio

  17. I do so envy you your 'do nothing day'

    As OH is still poorly my weekend has been a nursing one, he seems to get a little better each day, but tires very its up for a time and then back to bed.

    One of our very kind neighbours has lent us a TV for the bedroom, not something I would entertain normally, but its soemthing for him to watch when he is fed up with books, crosswords etc.......

    I am keeping going just now, have to collect a prescription later this afternoon, go to the chemist, library, shop for some he will be on his own for about an hour. Not happy leaving him, but I really have no alternative........

  18. Love your writings! I must agree about the completed circle. Joy comes when the circle is complete. This is only my second year gardening.. and I have no clue what I'm doing!

  19. Rhonda
    I like hearing about the contentment you feel about your life.
    No matter where we live, how we live, how old we are, isn't that really the source of be content?
    And your emphasis on a simpler lifestyle with less consumption and how to make our lives less dependent on others, just hits the mark.
    Thanks for your writings!

  20. Update in Michigan---Harvesting my garden is so rewarding! I just harvested another cutting of my leaf lettuce. Gave a huge bunch to my mom, brought in enough for 4 people here at work and still have a large bowl at home.

    I feel sorry for people who don't understand why we garden and love the earth. My mom watched me yesterday as I puttered around mine, pulling weeds, testing our future carrot harvest, happily squashing the japanese beetles and sharing the fresh tomatoes (which haven't yet made it into the house). She kinda tilted her head like a dog and looked at me when I was enjoying all the aspects of gardening. Unfortunately she doesn't get it.


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