Ahhhh, the serenity

16 July 2018
Hello friends. I'm almost back to normal and with the exception of a bung knee, I'm feeling pretty good. I had the exceptional gift of being able to rest and take my time with recovery and even though in years passed I would have become impatient with illness and the time it takes to recover, now I feel grateful I have the time and good sense to appreciate the process.  Thank you for your patience and the lovely comments you sent.

The Montville rose, and visitor.

Life goes on here whether I'm well or ill and I'm pleased I now have the opportunity to get back to the ordinary tasks I enjoy. I'm currently modifying our vegetable and herb garden to become more of a kitchen garden - a mix of vegetables, herbs and flowers. In the past week I've taken cuttings, transplanted, cut back and sown seeds and even though I'm not quite sure of my exact plan yet, I'm planting groups of plants that will eventually merge together to become a productive and hopefully a beautiful and charming garden. 

It's far from instagram "perfect"and I'd never want to bore you with perfection but when it starts to make sense, I'll take a few photos for you. Ours is an ordinary garden, there are weeds here, we have bugs, thorns sometimes catch and rip my skin but all those things are normal and the way of the natural world. Cutting down on weeds and non-benificial insects is one of my jobs now and having my hands in the soil makes me feel really connected with life out there in our backyard.

I've continued on with the dishcloths I'm making for Jonathan's school fete.

Meanwhile, inside our home, I've been thinking about the ongoing work I do. Housekeeping is often about repetitive chores and ticking off to do lists but it only takes a small adjustment in thinking to reimagine it as art that can be reinvented every day.  Each home, each family, each person is individual so there are 100s of decisions to be made to make a home that suits you and fits like a glove. The trick is to do something every day and to stop seeing it as drudgery, and more a way of changing your surroundings to enrich your life.

I started on another knitting project that I'll show you later in the week.  Gracie is very suspicious of my wool winder. Every time I use it, she sits nearby and keeps a close eye on it.  


When I was working for a living I was ambitious and hardworking. Stopping work, coming home and closing the gate didn't change me, I was still that ambitious person. And I didn't change into a homebody overnight, it was a gradual process, step by step, and my personality modified itself as time went by. I mellowed and changed what I thought success was. Instead of wanting everything I settled into my home and it changed me. It made me calmer and more accepting and instead of focusing on success I strived for generosity, inclusiveness and working with an open heart. 


When you close the gate you create a unique space that can be absorbing, calm and empowering. No matter what madness goes on outside in the streets of our beautiful country, here, on this land we live on, when we close that gate, the gentle air of freedom, generosity and contentment lives side by side with us. And you never know what each day will bring, even though it looks like the same from outside our fences. Some days people visit, new projects start and some are finished. Other days we enjoy the repetition of the familiar and sail through the work we do. In the long run, the busy visiting days and the repetition balance out and it all inspires us to continue. Ahhhh, the serenity.

56 comments

  1. Welcome back Rhonda! So glad you are feeling better and refreshed by some rest. Lovely post to return with too - I love the photo of Gracie watching the woolwinder intently - she clearly thinks it isn't to be trusted.

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  2. I am so in there with you Rhonda, thank you.

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  3. Love you rhonda. Sometimes the acceptance that healing will take time is part of the healing process.

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  4. How lovely to find you back. Ahh the serenity- The Castle is one of our favourite films. A timeless message.

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  5. Sounds like having a little kitchen garden is perfect for this time in your life.

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  6. Hi Rhonda, What an inspiring post. I'm sorry to hear that your knee is still hurting. I'm glad that you're getting some rest, and enjoying your soothing home and garden.

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  7. Goodmorning Rhonda,
    Welcome back, I’ve missed your soothing, sensible voice and I hope your knee is better soon. I love hearing about your everyday life and what it involves. Have a lovely day,
    Fi

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  8. Welcome back! I am glad you feel better now. You know just this morning I was thinking about how every single morning I put away the washed dishes from the night before while my porridge heats up. It used to kind of annoy me but now I actually enjoy the pace and rythm and familiarity of it. Bless that closed gate!

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  9. I'm so glad you are feeling better, Rhonda.
    When I saw the post in my in-box from "Down to Earth", I was very happy. Without thinking, I actually quietly said (to myself with a sigh), "Oh good." ;)
    Love your post as usual, especially love seeing Gracie's watchful eye on your wool winder. So cute!
    Have a wonderful day!

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  10. Welcome back Rhonda, so glad you are feeling much better and hopefully your knee will ease soon as well. I do look forward to reading your posts, they help keep me grounded and also remind me that what I do is important. So many would have us believe that not being a 'working' wife/mother makes us a drain on society and sets a bad example for our children, sometimes you start to believe it yourself. It's nice to be reminded that not everyone feels that way. x

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  11. Good to hear from you Rhonda. Look after that knee and of course the rest of you. I look forward to the pictures of your kitchen garden.

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  12. Welcome back Rhonda, glad to hear you are well rested, apart from the knee, I have started to crochet a tea cosy, quite a challenge I thought, it has turned out easier than I thought, such a simple pleasure,
    cheers Kat

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  13. So glad to see a post from you Rhonda, i have missed your wise words and comforting posts.
    And I love this way of thinking about the work we do on our home, not drudgery “but a way of changing your surroundings to enrich your life”. What a lovely way to think about it.
    Have a wonderful day.

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  14. Good morning Rhonda,
    it's lovely to have you back and to hear that you are feeling better apart from your poor knee.
    Thank you for your post today. I am a stay at home mum and at times my days do feel repetitive and housework does feel like drudgery. I try and remind myself that the 'work' I do is just as valuable as what my husband does in paid employment. Your wise and gentle words are an inspiration to many.
    Gracie looks so serious watching your wool winder. Does she shed black hair on your light sofa? Our two cats have comfortable warm beds but choose to sleep anywhere that takes their fancy, ensuring that their fur is left on as many surfaces as possible.
    I look forward to seeing your garden photos Rhonda. Take care.
    Warm regards;
    Maria from Adelaide.

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    1. Your work is important, Emm, never forget that. Gracie doesn't shed at all. The sofa is leather so I just wipe it over and it looks like new.

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  15. Glad you are back.

    Shell

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  16. I'm glad you have returned feeling refreshed. Many of the things you write of support the times in a household when someone may be ill and the pace of the usual daily life adjusts but the household can still function smoothly. I have just returned from Parkes, freezing, to the sunshine coast. It may be warmer here but I am still typing next to the fire place! Having time from home sharpens my appreciation of the life I have here. Back to homemade bread, vegetables from my garden, seeing hubby, my dog, cat,chickens and cows each day. Visiting my granddaughter and the outside world was great but time to shut the gate!

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  17. I know I don't always comment Rhonda, but this post strikes a powerful chord. So concise and meaningful. Thank you.

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  18. Whew, I’ve been checking daily. So glad you are feeling better!

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  19. Very inspiring post, Rhonda. I especially liked, "do something every day and stop seeing it as drudgery, and more a way of changing your surroundings to enrich your life." This brought tears to my eyes but a resolve to carry it out. I have been caring full-time for my husband for the past year after he suffered a hemorrhagic stroke at age 59. He is making progress, albeit slow. Some days it seems drudgery and oh so hard. But he smiles at me and the weariness of the day melts off and we dream together about our later years. We needed a chair in our bedroom for my husband to have another place to recline during the day. I found the perfect one in my favorite color red! It was used but in excellent shape and fit the spot just right. I put my grandmother's comforter on it (pinks and reds) and made it a cozy nest. Beauty in the midst of the mundane. Another reason to smile and keep going.

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    1. You're doing important work, Lori. I'm sure it's tough sometimes but it's so worthwhile. I send you and your DH my very best wishes. xx

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  20. So happy that your are better.You don't really know how much you bless so many of us with your wisdom and teaching. Bless you my friend! Carolyn in Florida


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  21. welcome back! hope your knee heals quickly. glad to hear you are rested & on the go once again, have missed you, Hanno & Gracie, she looks adorable with her intensity there with the woolwinder!
    looking forward to seeing your mixed garden; lovely rose too!
    i recently acquired a bread maker, so hope to get started on that this week, then i can stop buying it (one less plastic item)
    great post
    thanx for sharing

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  22. Nice to have you back Rhonda. Last week I had quite a busy time outside of the home which has shown me where I prefer to be. Thank you for todays blog - think I need to be more selective with the things I do.

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  23. Glad you are feeling somewhat better Rhonda. Aches and pains, oh we do need to be tough to grow older! Gracie just fits into the photos now as she does in your life. I have been thinking about life lately, I am just behind you in age.I want to live these years stress free and please our selves more. Anyway I could go on but won't. Keep well!

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  24. I'm sorry about your bung knee. We use a roll-on natural product that you can get from some chemists called Stiff Sore & Sorry. It isn't cheap but it really works for us.

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  25. Such a lovely post to read, Rhonda. I find that if I get really busy outside of home, I actually crave that serenity you wrote about. I know when I've had enough of the wider world, when I need to close our little blue gates and just be home. Glad your knee is feeling better too. Meg Xx

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  26. Lovely post. I can relate to the freedom and contentment.

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  27. So glad to hear you´re feeling much better Rhonda! I so agree with your point about having time now to take care of yourself when something happens. I used to rush back to work as soon as I could, often before I should have. Silly really. Right now we and our old cats are only going on quarter cylinders. Guess why...a long-term heat wave has hit Sweden and many European countries. It really takes the stuffing out of you - and we´re far from the water. Our summers are usually what you´d call moderately warm and sunny so this is a sensation. The poor farmers are devastated - crops growing so badly there will be no fodder for the animals, so mass premature slaughtering is taking place. Their problems put this old biddy´s discomfort into perspective. I can close doors and windows and turn on the fan. It´s disappointing but no one starves or loses economically if our veggies don´t make it. We are lucky to have our little house to withdraw into but our hearts go out to others whose livelihood is badly hit. I just wish I could pick up the energy again to do some of those repetetive things like sewing, crocheting... lol.

    Best wishes from Sweden
    Ramona

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  28. Ohhh, your doggie is so sweet! Give her a pet for me. :) And your dishcloth gave me a smile- I've knit ten of them this past week! Such a fun, easy project- and quick, too! Great for that feeling of accomplishment.

    I was down a little this weekend with a bad back (I have degenerative disc disease, and it seems I always flare at this particular part of the year. Maybe my back doesn't like the heat/humidity? Who knows), and it's frustrating to not be able to do the things I have planned, like cleaning and organizing projects, but I'm very much trying to get myself into that mental space of appreciating the break from physical work when this happens. It's not always easy and I don't always quite get there, but I'm working on it. :) I hope your knee is on the mend soon!

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  29. Welcome back Rhonda. I'm glad you are feeling better now.

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  30. Welcome back, Rhonda. Yours is my favourite blog and I miss you when you're gone but am glad you don't push yourself to keep going here when you need to rest. My husband and I hope to move onto a larger property in the coming years and I have a list of desirable attributes for the next property. You've just made me realise we will most definitely need a gate! For now I'll just consider the front door our 'gate. I've had a busy 2 weeks with teenagers in school holidays, a beautiful weekend away and lots of catch ups with friends but I'll be closing my pretend gate now for the week except for food shopping on Wednesday and a dinner with friends on Friday. Thanks for giving me this thought, I'll now mentally refer to home time as 'closing the gate'.

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  31. I'm so pleased to hear that you're feeling better Rhonda, I've missed you on my trips around the internet. Apart from the occasional stint making coffees in town or waitressing, I haven't worked off this farm for close to 20 years now and it's getting harder and harder to imagine the Kate that dressed up in nice clothes and took a train into Melbourne city each day. Feels like another life time. I also feel so much more connected, contented and empowered when my hands are in the soil working with mother nature. I hope you continue to feel stronger each day. xx

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  32. Rhonda- Happy to see you are feeling refreshed and your post was lovely. My garden became overwhelming for me when I had to go back to work later in life. I retired four years ago and finally was able to revamp it to suit this stage of my life.It is now exactly the right size for me as I grow older and I am so delighted to be back at it but in a very manageable way. It gives me such pleasure! Learning to let go and enjoy the simple pleasures of every day life. What a gift!
    Thankyou for your thoughtful words each week!

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  33. I am so glad that you are feeling better. I also got into the garden this weekend, and planted out some asparagus I had started from seed. A long term commitment. I am enjoying more and more perennials, and love flowers intermingled with the veggies.

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  34. Great to have you back, Rhonda. I missed you. I think it takes us longer to recover from illnesses as we get older. Yesterday I tripped over a rock in the yard and have a broken rib as a result. Boy, that slows you up. Getting up from a chair, the toilet or out of bed is very painful. My good man has to stay home and be my strength. And I had just started my winter pruning - will have to put it on hold for a while.

    Take care of you and Hanno and Gracie.

    God bless.
    Lyn in northern New South Wales.

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    1. Crikey Lyn, you don't do things by halves, do you. Stay quiet to give that rib a chance to heal. I hope you'll be back pruning before too long. xx

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  35. Great to read that you are feeling better Rhonda. I love the sound of your Potager. The French kitchen garden has always appealed to me with its vegetables, herbs and flowers. Look forward to seeing the photos eventually. Each month, I read your Simple Life Book chapter for the current month. July being baking, that is just what I have been doing. The other night I made a Roly Poly (your recipe) using Mulberries bottled from our tree during summer. It was sooooooo delicious! The gate was shut and we enjoyed this simple pleasure, especially as it was only 3 degrees C outside. Love this simple life.

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    1. Gail, my mum used to bake roly poly for us in winter - sometimes with jam, sometimes with apples. It was such a treat. The recipe was my mother's mother's but I'm pretty sure it came down through the family to them. Stay warm. xx

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  36. awww, serenity, that sounds so nice. I am trying to remind myself to smile every time I get down about something. I actually just started that this week!! And I'm also telling myself to think of at least one grateful thing when I am feeling down or overwhelmed too. Be positive and be kind are my new mantra's! and of course digging in the dirt does wonders for the soul too! as always, I enjoy your blog.

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  37. So glad that you are feeling better and that your time away supplied some serenity. It is so important to know when a break is needed in our sometimes too, too busy lives.

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  38. Welcome back dear lady, such a wonderful post. I hope the knee continually gets better. Thank you for your words of wisdom and the warmth that comes through to your readers.

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  39. Rhonda, I am so happy you are up and about again. When you do not post, I feel like something is missing in my life. I am in the US and just wondering how cold you get in the winter. I live in a state with lots of snow and we can get to 10-20 degrees below zero. I think that is -23 to -33 Celsius. Do you get that cold?

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    1. Hi Cate, thanks. Like the US and Canada, Australia is an enormous country so we have tropics, sub-tropics and temperate climate zones with a huge area of desert in the centre. The desert (outback) is very hot for most of the year and freezing in winter. I live in the sub-tropics and our daily temperatures range between 5 to 23C (41 to 73F) in winter. We never get frost or snow where I live and the days are lovely. My sister lives in the Blue Mountains behind Sydney and it snows there occasionally. A bit further down in the Alps, where our capital, Canberra, is, it snows in winter but is very hot in summer. If you move up to the top of Australia into the tropics, it's warm to hot there, and extremely humid, all the time.

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    2. Thank you, Rhonda. I always wondered about your temperature. :)

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  40. Rhonda , you continue to inspire me !
    My son teaches in a school for children with disabilities . I am thinking I will also knit for their annual fete . I have been knitting Vintage jumpers and cardigans for Grand daughter but am inspired to now help others outside immediate family : ) Btw ...love these vintage patterns ....they work !!
    Jenster .

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  41. I'm am happy to hear that you are on the mend! I have had my own health struggles lately. Two weeks in bed with a particularly nasty stomach bug and a migraine. I'm still recovering. The hardest part has been having no choice, but to stop working in my home. It showed me though that I push myself too hard and the the world will not end if I don't complete my to do list. Even if that time lasts for weeks. Your comments here are a beautiful serendipity to my own thoughts.

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    1. I hope you feel much better soon, Aubrey.

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  42. So glad you're feeling better and thank you always for your wise words about home and the world behind the gate. I don't think I ever tire from hearing them.
    Kate x
    ps not sure where the option to comment as rapunzels wild garden has gone but no matter, its still me.

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  43. So happy you're feeling better. What a beautiful blog post.

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  44. I have thoroughly missed your posts Rhonda. I know one day they will eventually stop, but hope to find peace in knowing that your books and hopefully this blog will be forever on the internet. Your posts have inspired me to do as you do, and as a young mother. I hope to inspire and instill similar beliefs with my family. Glad you were able to rest. Look forward to hearing more soon.

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    1. Hello Peonies. I just want to reassure you that even when I'm no longer writing here, the blog will remain online for all to see. xx

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    2. PeoniesandmossJuly 22, 2018 2:09 am

      Thanks Rhonda for the reassurance. I will still miss your regular posts though. They are such a joy to read every week. Thanks for all of your input and sharing your knowledge x

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  45. Glad you are feeling better. Sometimes it can feel as if there is always something else to go wrong. I take a day off and go to bed when I have had enough. Have been doing it for years and it suits me. We had 3 bad frosts in a row as we a little inland from you - west of Ipswich. One whole section of my garden has simply disappeared. Therefore we are not doing anything much till we are confident the frosts are gone, probably in a month or so. Good health to all with you.

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  46. BTW I loved that film. Such lovely ordinary people.

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  47. Welcome back, I have been working on a kitchen garden too.

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