Weekend Reading

23 October 2020

I want to start today by thanking everyone who bought a paperback copy of Down to Earth. The hardback was published in 2012 and became a best-seller, remaining in the book shops for over eight years. I thought the book would help a lot of people cope with the COVID crisis by showing them how to create a safe haven at home, Penguin agreed and so a cheaper version of Down to Earth was printed. If you did buy a copy, I'd love you to tell me if you enjoyed the book and to review it on Instagram, your blog or Goodreads. Look in the link list below for a link to an extract of the book on Penguin's website.

Weekend Reading

16 October 2020

We've continued to get the garden ready for summer but the most important part of this week has been preparing for the publication of the paperback Down to Earth and writing some publicity articles for Penguin to distribute. The book will be ready for sale next week - 20 October. The RRP is $34.99 but Booktopia has its presale price at AU $27.75. It's also available at Book Depositary and Amazon if you're reading this far, far away. 

If you haven't read my first book, I hope you get a copy with this release. It's my manifesto and a full description of what Hanno and I did when we decided to make a complete and significant life change in the early 2000s. I think it would make a good Christmas gift too, especially for young people just starting out or for older folk who are unsure how to move ahead during Covid. This lifestyle makes complete sense for a whole lot of different reasons in 2020. It will help you make your home a shelter, it will guide you towards decisions about how to grow, store, preserve, cook and bake food, and it will help you decide how you can make your home productive and move further away from buying everything you need from the shop.

Above: A simple breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon.  I use natural bacon with no added nitrates or preservatives.  Below: Getting ready to roll out a batch of dog biscuits for Gracie.

Now that the lavender flowers are starting to die off, I'll cut the top of the bush off, removing all the flowers.  That should give me another flush of flowers in summer.

Here are some of the things I've read during the week, I hope you enjoy them:
🧵  🌿  🧵
Kerry asked me to pass on his thanks and gratitude for all the lovely messages of hope he received here and Instagram last week. He's recovering nicely and has just returned to work and the gym. Hanno and I thank you for your kindness and grace too.

So that's all my news for the moment, what are you up to?

This is not the easiest thing to write about

9 October 2020
We got our internet connection back yesterday afternoon so I'm pleased to be back with you. There'll be no Weekend Reading today because I haven't been online for a couple of weeks; it will return next week. During our time offline I've been gardening, taking plant cuttings, sewing, baking, cooking, grocery shopping, reorganising things in my home, reading another Wendell Berry book - Andy Catlett, Early Travels: A Novel, and relaxing on the front verandah with Hanno and Gracie. I enjoyed those two weeks a lot.

But I also lived one of the worst days of my life during that time. My son Kerry was diagnosed with stage two melanoma. I've never been so scared in my life. Kerry handled it very well and although he was worried, he went ahead with all the tests, scans and surgery and then had to wait a week for the results. We were all so relieved when the surgeon reported that he removed the melanoma and nearby gland and that instead of stage two, it was stage one. Removal of the gland revealed the cancer hadn't spread.

I spoke with Kerry yesterday and asked if I could write about this. He agreed and wants me to pass on an important message to you. He said it's vitally important that we all check our skin, especially with summer coming up. He said that even if you think there is no problem, just like he did, to do a thorough check and go to your doctor if you find anything out of the ordinary. The doctor actually asked him what made him have the check-up because it didn't look like a melanoma. He had no pain, no itching and no reason to be worried, but he was and he acted on instinct and got it checked. That saved him and I can't express how grateful I am that he took that step, had a check and got the treatment he needed. Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world so please check your skin today and make sure you check the kids too. How to check your skin.

Herbs and a transplanted orange tree.

After Kerry's scare, things returned to normal and the rest of life is pretty good at the moment. We're getting ready for summer outside - we'll be cleaning the windows next week and trying to protect the garden from wind and sun with straw mulch. Our sun umbrella it up all the time and I'm wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen but most of all not spending too much time in the sun. I still have to clean out the bush house and repot a few plants and hope to get that done soon. I only have about three weeks before the humidity starts and want everything done before that.

We always have water out for the birds and insects.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow - Hanno's favourite plant.

The Down to Earth paperback arrived last week.  I'm delighted with it and will take photos tomorrow and write about it over the weekend.  

I hope you're well and safe from the coronavirus. Over 35 million people confirmed with it so far and there is no sign yet that it's easing. The state I live in has a handful of cases, all from returning travellers, so we're out and about but still very mindful of the dangers and abiding by the advice given to us. Take care. xx

Weekend Reading

26 September 2020
We had "scheduled maintenance" on our NBN on Thursday and now we have limited broadband and no explanation why. Anyhow, I'd already added these readings to the list so I'll post them now while I can access the net (I hope).  It's 2.45am. I'll be back when everything is fixed.

Weekend Reading

18 September 2020

Tomorrow is Hanno's 80th birthday so our family will be here for lunch and celebrations. I met Hanno when he was 37 and I was 28, we sure have come a long way since then 😳.

Weekend Reading

11 September 2020

Yesterday afternoon, I'd just planted some snapdragons.

I've never grown Californian poppies before but some were in a bee and butterfly seed mix I broadcast over the garden a couple of months ago. I was surprised and very pleased when I saw these charming, buttercup flowers spring up right in the middle of the cottage garden last week. But when I saw about 20 stingless bees in that yellow cup, I decided that California poppies would be a part of my forever garden. We need flowers such as those poppies to help provide pollin for visiting bees. We have a lot of bees here, many solitary bees like blue banded bees, teddy bear bees, leafcutter bees, resin bees and some more social bees such as our native stingless bees.  Stingless bees produce honey known as Sugarbag. We buy our raw honey from a man down the street who keeps hives and I'm pretty sure his bees come here too. The honey bees we're all so used to seeing are an introduced species from England.

Weekend Reading

4 September 2020
Each week the weather is warmer and each week I try to do more in the garden because I know that come November, I won't want to be outside.  It's peaceful here. We hear trees rustling in the wind, there is sometimes a faint buzz of traffic in the distance, birds twitter, the chooks squark and occasionally a gate will open and close.  That's it. That's an accurate summary of the sounds in our back yard.  So with a minimum of sound, it's easy to focus on what I'm doing, think about how I can improve what's before my eyes and, most importantly, relax and feel secure in my home. Feeling relaxed and safe is a good feeling and the foundation of most things that happen here.

Summer memories is being grown in a large pot. It opens out to be a large cabbage-type pale rose.

Weekend Reading

28 August 2020
The backyard at 3pm with Gracie's woollen blanket drying in the sun.
Hanno having a rest while he fixes the pathway in the chook run.  That's the mini Cavendish banana in the foreground. He's going to cut the pups off and transplant one to that bare space on the wire fence.

All citrus grow too many flowers at the beginning of the fruiting season but tend to either drop them or lose them to birds or insects in the following weeks.  Our main orange tree is bursting with flowers. I'll pick many of them off soon to help it grow a good crop of large fruit instead of many small fruit.

Weekend Reading

21 August 2020

More work in the garden this week. It's been good to be outside although the wind is annoying as it dries out the soil too quickly. Hanno is preparing the corner of the garden to transplant some banana pups so we have more bananas and, hopefully, at different times.  Overall though, these mini bananas are easier to tend than the taller ones. The minis grow to just about a metre tall so checking the leaves, removing dead leaves and harvesting are much easier. After a question from a reader on IG, I searched for these mini bananas online and found Diggers has them in stock. In a frost-free climate, these are a valuable addition to the backyard.

Weekend Reading

14 August 2020

I've spent time every day in the garden this week. The warmer weather has promoted growth and the two tomato plants have grown a lot in a week. There are plenty of flowers out now too. Today I'll finished the planting with a punnet of foxgloves - surely the sweetest flower name of all.  My aim was to get all the planting, weeding and mulching done before the hot weather, and we've done that, so from now on, it's pruning, dead-heading, fertilising, watering and a little bit of harvesting. Speaking of which, Hanno harvested the curly kale on Wednesday for his annual pork and kale feast.