Saturday, April 28, 2007

Small pleasures

A big day in the garden, doing things that needed to be done three weeks ago. Dead beans pulled up and trashed, chicken coop cleaned, the bed for the broad beans prepped and horse manure collected from our source on the edge of town. At the stables Lu wandered around stroking the horses and stating she would ride one home. Her interest has shown no signs of abating, which is disappointing as we were hoping for a less expense hobby - reading cheap books from thrift stores or perhaps mending. I fear Lu will have to be content with pony rides at the local market for quite some time to come.

It's always such a relief to get to 7.30 when both girls are (usually) down for the night. Tonight, it'll be an old Hitchcock movie, as much Stone's green ginger wine as I can swallow and comfort food made from sugar and lard. It'll be an empty kind of a time, however, with West Wing now gone from the telly. Still, with the beginning of cold nights we've started to light the fire and it's a calming thing, to stare into the flames and fiddle with the wood.

This is the first time in years we've had a fire. Previously we've relied on the hydro but it's an expensive way of heating and wood's working out cheaper. Environmentally, wood fires are a problem where we live. Walking out in the morning, the smell of wood smoke is welcoming but it's accompanied by an inversion layer which looks romantic but causes a lot of asthma around here. Indeed, houses are sold as being 'above the smog line', and cost extra for it; we can't afford such a luxury.

As a rule we try to minimise our ecological footprint and make a difference in all the usual mild mannered ways. The fires do prick our conscience. But aside from the cost factor there's also the thrill. Both Al and I have spent most of our lives in Queensland, where a little fan heater is all that's required, and that only rarely. So wood heating is quite exotic and just a little romantic (admittedly in a very cliched way). It is one of a suite of things that still make me smile after five years in this part of the world: daffodils, snowdrops and tulips; raspberries in the gardens and blackberries down the street; fabulous scarves and funky knitted hats. These weren't part of my life until recently; as an avid reader of mid-century British children's literature, I have felt their absence bitterly.

In this spirit I'm revisiting the question of roses in my garden. I planted some a few years back but the aphids, black spot and general ugliness of the plants lead me to give them away. Al and I keep dancing around the possibility of one day moving back north where roses just don't do well, and I wonder if I will regret not taking the chance when I had it. Like my friend Tambo, I like roses best in the house, not on the bush. But to have them in the house, or more specifically to have the ones I like in the house, I'm going to have to make room and time for some bushes. Space has opened up now that we have regretfully removed some old trees that were causing cracks in our walls. We can't face the extra work of more annuals or veggies and so roses it may well be. Al's not a fan of flowers but he rather fancies the idea of an ironic "Aussie" bed of Mary McKillops, Ian Thorpes, Sir Dons and the like. I worry this might be ironic in the way a tyre swan out the front is ironic - i.e. it may well be, but that doesn't make it right. But if we go ahead, the roses will be gaudy and vulgar. I'm aware of the value placed on the form and subtlety by those who claim some taste in these matters but I have realised I like my roses big and bright and smelling like lollies. If the flowers are not as big as my head and smelling like musk sticks, I can't really see the point.

Eating from the garden: greens in yet another stir fry (this time with beef, tofu, shitaake mushrooms and carrots); walnuts, pelted into our courtyard by the naughty boy over the back fence, in carrot and apple muffins - thanks, naughty boy!


Mrs Pea said...

Oooh, stones! That used to be my Mum's tipple of choice and I loved stealthy sneak sips as a child. You certainly know you've had a drop, don't you? Your garden sounds like a work of art. I'll come over one day and we can sit and admire it together!

Tamsin said...

West Wing...oh, West Wing. How we miss you. Mark and I sat sadly in front of the telly last night, in silent tribute to Josh (Josh!), CJ, Toby and the rest, not quite sure if we would ever feel the same way about a TV program again, but pretty certain that the hole would not be filled by Spiderman 2. Maybe it's time for Love My Way? xx
PS Did you really post this at 2.35am?!?

nutmeg said...

Oh I have caught up on your last couple of posts and many of your concerns mirror my own! The walk with your friend, of last post, and the topics discussed are near to my heart - I once heard someone describe their own lack of sleep and that just thinking about having some was pleasurable and nearly erotic! I know what that is!!!

Your garden is inspiring. I have my first crop underway and so far I have kept the possums at bay with netting. My neighbour gave me some "good bug mix seeds" which I have sown amongst the vegies - I'll have to wait and see if they are a deterant.

And don't get me started on West Wing - I missed the whole season as I was still only watching season 5 on DVD. And I never remember to tape ANY show consistently. I saw season 6 has been released and is in the order of $65 so I will be waiting for a while for the price to come down (as I was able to purchase seasons 1 to 5 for only $30 each!). So it will be interesting to see if I can last. I have season 2 of Love My Way still to watch so I hope that fills a viewing gap - there really is so little to watch on TV - but why should I be surprised about that ;-)

nutmeg said...

Oh I forgot to ask - is Berlin Noir a good read? I've hd my eye on it for a little while.

littlejennywren said...

Hi, read your comment at Isabella in the 21st century and followed you links only to find another Tassie blogger,from lovely Lonnie no less.

Kris said...

Hi folks

i'm thinking it might be time to spend the money on LMW. It's got to be cheaper than couples therapy, which will surely be necessary now that Al and I have lost our shared interest (most common exchange:
K: "CJ's really tall"
A: "Yeah. I think she's taller than all the men"
K; "Yeah. So do I." How I'll miss the conversations that show stimulated.)

I love the idea of a bug seed mix - you'll have to let me know what's in it. But it won't help against the possums! There's none down in my neighbourhood - maybe the convicts ate them for extra protein - but as an ex-Brisbane girl I will say they are shameless, bold and seemingly unstoppable, taking all the good stuff two days before quite ripe enough for people.

Re: Berlin Noir. The stories are a pretty standard example of the genre but the detail in the settings lifts them into a type of social history, and they are worth reading for that dimension, I think.

Jenny - hi! It's nice to find another Tassie blogger. Most of my blog reading focuses on Melbourne and I was wondering how to find something more local.

Mrs Pea - the garden's almost always a shambles, despite my best efforts. But I do try.