Luckily I don't compare my performance to what others are doing. When I look at the forum and see the amount of work some of our members do every day, I think back to when that was my day too and breathe a sigh of relief that my seasons have changed and there is less work to do. I come from a working class family who took pride in the paid and unpaid work they did. In our world, most of what we had we got through hard work. Daily work, and the importance of it, is etched into my soul. Very few of us are wealthy enough to go through life without work and to tell you the truth, if I were in that category, I'd work anyway because of the many non-financial benefits work brings with it. Work helps shape the person you become.
When I closed down my business many years ago, I didn't know what I would do but knew I wasn't about to be spending time on a beach soaking up the rays. I had to realise my worker's ethos in a more creative way because I knew that daily work would always be part of what I do and who I am. As I walked away from commercial work, I wasn't sure to what extent, but I had a strong feeling that domestic work would help save me. I didn't know it at the time but the day I picked up my broom and put on my apron was the day my life changed for the better. I'm still here all these years later, working for the life I want and appreciating the power of our home while I look forward to the years ahead.
So what am I doing? Many people ask me about my days and what I do so here's what I did yesterday. Got up around 3.30am, dressed and checked emails, the blog comments and the forum. Then I watched a TV program about a Russian museum that I recorded the other day. I was covered with a thick fleece and had my slippers on so I was warm, the room was fairly dark and I eventually drifted off to sleep. When the program finished, the TV and recorder turned themselves off and I slept soundly in my armchair until Hanno came out at 7am. After waking up a second time, I let the chickens out for the day, put food in their hopper and lingered in the garden watching the early bees moving from flower to flower. Hanno unpacked the dishwasher while I made breakfast then I cleaned the kitchen and made up a care parcel for a friend so Hanno could post it when he went out. Tricia rang. We talked for 20 minutes or so, I made the bed, cleaned my teeth, brushed my hair and opened the windows in the bedroom and bathroom. Then I went outside again for 15 minutes to water the seedlings and the new plantings of lettuce and silver beet/chard.
Hanno went for his blood test and to pick up a few things at Aldi and I baked a cake from the CWA Classics book - Mum's Orange Tea Cake. I've made it a few times before and it's delicious. We have it over a few days for morning tea.
MUM'S ORANGE TEA CAKE
2 rounded tablespoons soft butter
½ cup sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cup self-raising flour
1 dessertspoon cornflour
milk, if needed
1 tablespoon extra sugar to sprinkle on the top before baking
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a round 20 cm cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
Cream butter and sugar, add the egg and beat well. Add zest and juice of orange (don't worry when it curdles). Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well. It's a thick batter but if it's too thick add a little milk.
Pour into prepared tin and sprinkle with extra sugar. Bake until it smells cooked and is golden on top, about 30 minutes.
After cleaning up my baking equipment, I started on lunch. We have our main meal at lunchtime now and have tea and a snack in the late afternoon. Yesterday's lunch was beef ribs with silver beet and turnips from the garden. The beef is very easy to make. I wrap it tightly in two sheets of alfoil and place it in a hot oven at 190C for about 60 minutes. That steams the ribs and when I peel back the foil the meat is starting to fall off the bone. For the remaining cooking time, leave the foil open. I make up a marinade (below) and brush it on the top and sides of the ribs and keep cooking it in the oven at 180C for another 30 minutes. A second brushing of the marinade and then let it cook for 15 minutes before removing it from the oven. Delicious! BTW, we use entree plates instead of dinner plates now so if you think the plates look crowded, it's because they're smaller.
BEEF RIBS MARINADE
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon chilli jam, chilli sauce or a sprinkling of chilli flakes
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
After lunch I cleaned up, checked the forum and emails and hemmed Gracie's fleece. I emptied the freezer drawers at the bottom of our fridge, washed the drawers, organised the frozen food in there, and added the ice cube container for the ice I'll make soon for the warmer months. Around 3pm we pulled down the shade screens on the back verandah and had afternoon tea. Tricia phoned again and we talked and giggled about a letter she found that I wrote to her in 1962 when she was away staying with our Aunty. I wrote about Bobby Darin (the singer) and Father Knows Best (the TV show). LOL I was 14 years old.
Then back outside again to water the vegetable garden which gave me the opportunity to sit and watch the birds and listen to the teenager next door express his angst with a sad song about losing his girl. Ah, teenage love. Back inside, I started writing this post and then made tea and toast which I enjoyed while watching TV for an hour with Hanno. A bit of knitting was done, the kitchen cleaned up, a few notes made in my notebook and some messages and emails sent. And that was it for the day. It's only a fraction of what I once did but with older age comes less energy, calmness, contentment and the desire for self-reflection. So while I happily acknowledge that I do less work, I know there is less to do because we have pared back our wants and needs. And at the end of the day, I go to bed satisfied and while I don't catapult myself out of bed every morning like I once did, there is still a burning desire to live well and enjoy every day.