golden autumn days

daisys in sun

rose and grevillea

quinces

seal

rose

coming along

spinach

fu

flora and ruben

geese

finished

half done

scones for lunch

Each morning this week, we have awoken to heavy dews and windows opaque with condensation.  When we first venture out onto the porch, the air is crisp and cool, but this autumn sun  … the higher it rises, the more golden and warm it becomes.  By the time the chores are done, we have shed our jumpers and reached for our hats.  The calendar may declare it to be autumn but by golly, it seems the whole continent is holding tight to the warmth of summer and just does not want to let go.

The maples that frame our porch still have ALL their leaves with only a few turning red.  Yes, the daisies are abloom but the roses are still putting out fat luscious buds.  There may be quinces at the farmgates, but the bulbs and African Flame Trees have decided it’s time to flower!  And today, that sun was so strong, the veggies that haven’t been eaten by rats (yay to the worst rats our corner of the valley has seen in years!) were wilting.

Sigh … there’s not much we can do to hustle along proper autumn weather and so we make the most of these glorious golden days and keep our fingers crossed.

Today, Julian set off early for the airport – he has workshops to run in Sydney – and I set up my paints in the veggie garden to keep decorating the guinea pig house.  Today – the Moominvalley Horse.  According to Noah – who’s read all the novels and big hard covered volumes of cartoons – this wonderfully silly horse has no name.  It’s just the horse.  But it has a fabulous mane, tail and flowers scattered across it’s body.  And almost always, a slightly manic and disdainful look.  I love it!

I adore Tove Jansson’s art.  So much imagination and whimsy.  I wish I could grow her weird and wonderful trees and flowers.  I wish there were Moomins and their friends in our forest, complete with gushing streams and little bridges. Her stories and art are full of such a heartwarming eccentricity and so many of her characters seem beset by anxiety!  Makes me feel right at home :-)

Next up will be the Mymble’s Daughter lying amongst the flowers with her book – that will go across the front (and one of the images that I would love to have tattooed on my arm – should I ever get a tattoo).  And on the last side – well it just has to be Noah’s favourite – Snufkin.  With his pipe standing on a wee bridge almost hidden by trees.

However, today there were visitors to prepare for and so the minute the last strokes of navy were added to the horse’s ears, Noah and I quickly set to work.  The porch was tidied, swept and washed.  Fresh straw was laid in the chicken house and nest – and two of this morning’s eggs returned so the littlest visitor could collect them (unnecessary – turned out those chickens are taking their newly acquired egg laying duties very seriously and had laid a couple more!).  The banana lounges were set up under the white cedar for the grown ups and the dear little cane chair that was mine when I was small was pulled out of storage, dusted off and given pride of place.  Bathrooms were cleaned.  Scones were baked (the recipe I’ve used for the last 15 years – Nigella’s Lily’s Scones from “How to Be a Domestic Goddess”).  And all just in time.

We gave our visitors a tour of our wee farm – fed the rabbit and guinea pigs, laughed at the ducks and geese, picked carrots, collected the eggs, chatted with the goats who are always happy to talk, and spent a lot of time keeping track of Fu.  “The Fluffy one” was the littlest one’s hottest favourite.  Then we had our picnic under the tree.

By the time they left, Noah and I were so tired all we wanted to do was flop on the sofa – but there were parcels waiting for us at the Post Office – Rhonda Hetzel’s new book “The Simple Home”, Tone Finnanger’s new book “Tilda’s Toy Box” (it is utterly divine and I want to make everything), a new honey pot for the kitchen, and a tshirt for Noah.  Mail order is definitely one of the perks of living in the country :-)

We are so far from the shops that there’s no regular dropping in as we pass.  Instead, even though we shop locally for as much as we can, every couple of months we pop in small orders to some of our favourite online stores – books (I like Booktopia – Australian owned and operated, excellent delivery times), eco homewares (I adore Spiral Garden (they have Taproot at a great price with Australian shipping and a lovely homewares section), Greenharvest (their egg brush is my favourite kitchen tool), Eden Seeds (I will happily just read the catalogue in bed everynight), and Bee Eco Wraps (just amazing!  transformed our food storage) Noah’s into tshirts, Julian has a passion for vintage tools, and I confess, special bits of fabric and wool find there way here too (Little Woollie Makes is my favourite for wool – she has everything I love, and I’m addicted to Clair’s Fabrics – really nicely curated collection).  Then –  as we don’t have a mailman that comes to our gate, our parcels are left at the local postoffice in the nearby village and when we drop in for milk, the lovely owners always know whether something is waiting for us.  We love it! It’s just so quaint and old fashioned compared to living on a tram line in a huge city.  I’m so glad we’re here.

So a lovely day was perfectly ended with cups of tea and reading.  Noah cooked supper.  The animals were tucked into bed.  The cool night has drawn in.

Maybe tomorrow it will feel like autumn.  Whether or not, there will be loveliness for sure.

when the rain came

rainy

washing eggs

violets

simmering soup

new duck goose house

crafting corner

fabrics

cutting squares

knitting

Never before have I been so obsessed with the coming of rain! I remember being mildly obsessed with it back 10 years of more when Brisbane was in the grip of a drought that reduced the city’s water reserves to less than 20%.  But now that we depend on our rainwater tanks for our water needs – as well as the needs of our animals and garden – I anxiously ponder every week’s predictions like never before.

It’s been especially concerning the last few months as we have received less rainfall than our corner of the world usually gets, and the temperatures have been abnormally high.  Here we are, heading towards the end of April, and even the nights are still warm.  Ah climate change.

My words cannot express how cranky and frustrated our pathetic governments make me when it comes to this critical issue.  The Queensland government has just approved the building of the southern hemisphere’s largest coal mine – by an utterly corrupt and immoral Indian corporation – an enterprise even the conservative banks have declared unprofitable – and this when it has just been understood that our Great Barrier Reef now has LESS THAN 10% of its area UNAFFECTED  by coral bleaching and we have experienced our hottest autumn on record.

The continued devotion of our state and federal governments to the filthy habits of capitalism and economic expansion above all else – including our very ability to exist – is breathtakingly ignorant and they will surely go down in history as the ultimate Neros who fiddled whilst our nation burned.  As the saying goes (more or less) “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”

Sigh.

Politics aside – we finally had a lovely day of rain this week.  It was such a relief.  Beautiful fresh water danced across the tin roof and trickled noisily into our tanks.  The ducks and geese threw up their wings in delight and spent the day stomping about in the wet, whilst all the other animals snuggled into the dry straw of their little homes.

And us?  Oh it was such a lovely release from the sense, when the weather is dry and sunny, that we should be outside making the most of it, building and gardening and working.  Instead, Julian settled in for some serious hacking.  Noah worked on an exquisite embroidery he has designed.  And I pottered about, thrilled to be inside and cosy.

There was the slow simmering of yellow split pea soup, the knitting up of the last few rows of my Milo Vest, and the delighted cutting out and stitching together of little squares of lovely fabrics that I have been gathering up over the last few weeks.  I am making a simplified version of the Grand Total Quilt that appeared in the latest American Patchwork and Quilting magazine.  I want to hang it on the wall above the sofa.  Mmmmm …. can’t wait :-)

I so savour these days, and fingers crossed, as we move faster and faster towards winter, we will be granted more.  Fingers crossed.

verandah tales

wool

cups of tea
view

pegs and grapes

grapes

skull

gloves

for planting

squares thus far

reading about snakes
crochet tools

crochet

quilt
maple and sky

how to make hash browns

stack

popcorn

:: Noah and I shopped for soft mushy shades at Morris and Sons yesterday – he was in Melbourne, I was here at Wombat Hill – it was a lovely collaboration

:: today’s the first Saturday we’ve all been at home with nothing else to do for so many months – so Noah and I made tea, gathered our supplies and settled onto the verandah

:: oh the green!  in this the last month of summer, every corner of our home is still enveloped in lush richness – fields of long grass, swathes of grape vine, the evergrowing japanese maple

:: these grapes!  piquant with thick skins, finger licking juice and a nice plump seed in the midst of each one – just as a grape should be

:: so much planting to do – more herbs and some greens for quick picking

:: completely inspired by this – colours I have never put together before – but sing to me not of snowy Swedish landscapes, but of faded summer days, bleached by the strong Australian sun

:: he is the loveliest of companions – his interests are so varied and interesting – first it’s snakes (we have plenty of these) and then onto the perfect hash brown

:: and then the breeze picks up and brings with it an icy edge, a reminder that the days are shortening and we are reaching for quilts

:: meanwhile, when I cannot bear to crochet another stitch, the country living sends me straight into the kitchen for maple and cinnamon popcorn

Oh it was indeed a lovely verandah afternoon and such a pleasure to be here, all together, in our new home

a very small Christmas

the mantlepiece

shepherd

good king wncelas

cookie cutters

waiting for their turn in the oven

baked

threading the critters

putting up the tree

oranges

angel

in the nappy bucket

julian

trkey brine

books and presents

To be sure, it’s a very small Christmas here in Bootville this year.

Our lovely big tree and the decorations we have been making and collecting for 23 years are at the farm.  So’s the nativity set and the Christmas candles.   As are the Christmas quilts, pillowcases, bunting, banners, gift bags, table linen …

All that’s left here is the funny little tree I picked up from hard rubbish a couple of years back.  Noah and I spruced her up with slices of oven dried oranges and salt dough cookies (which I’ve caught the naughty dog licking).  And in a moment of weakness, I even called into HoneyBees and bought a sweet wooden angel to hang.

We’ve prettied up the mantlepiece with fairy lights and angels and some dear little wooden friends – St. Nicholas herding a few cows, a cheerful shepherd watching the singing angels with his sheep, and Good King Wencelas and his stoic little page.

Presents are gathering under the tree – we’ve no time or room for making lovely wrappings so it’s scraps of packing paper and wool (unless there’s shop wrapping to take advantage of!).

And now, just before I head off to night duty, Julian and I have brined the turkey (we use Nigella’s fabulous medieval brining found in her Feast cookbook – one of my favourites that’s also at the farm – or here!) and since we can’t find the lidded bucket we’ve brining the turkey in for 9 years, we’re using the old nappy bucket – well washed I promise.

Yes, we are swamped with boxes and tumbling over piles of things that were about to be put in boxes and then got left out til next time.  And mess.  There’s so much mess.

Never mind.  I think there may be a bit of stocking-sewing action tomorrow, there’ll be a bit of Christingle action on Christmas Eve (if you’d like to make some, there’s a sweet little history and description of them here), there’ll definitely be Midnight Mass and probably Christmas morning mass too (I get so carried away with the carols!), and at any moment, my Mum will be here.

Yes, it will be a much smaller Christmas than that which we’ve become used to – but one with plenty of good cheer and love.