Spring Fever: Life Vol. 11 ; October 1 – December 21, 2008


You know those time-lapse movies where they show the full life cycle of plants in just a few seconds?  Well, that’s what spring has felt like for me.  Things are moving and growing so quickly that we barely have time to breathe and catch our breaths. The last ten weeks since my last ‘Life’ post have been tremendously busy and I don’t think I’ve spent more than six or seven days in any one place.   We’ve got spring fever.

We managed to log a couple of road trips which were great and much needed.  The first was to Greymouth in October for the gem show;  the second was to a friends place near Motueka; and the third was up to the north island where we bought the sea-green 4×4 big machine, aka Sexy Beast.   And what foresight we had, as Sexy Beast has come in handy already, saving day when the van broke down, yet again, on the property right when we were due to return back to town.   Oh, the poor van, it may actually be on its last legs, but that story will need to be told in a future post.

Bruce & momBruce, Linda, & Kathy

My mother-in-law, Linda, came for a week-long visit.  We had a lovely time with her, spending a few days in Christchurch, sightseeing, eating, and meeting our friends; and a few days in Wainui where we chilled out, cooked, chatted and spent a day perusing private gardens of Akaroa as part of the annual Akaroa Garden Tour weekend.   We all really enjoyed the garden tours, having the opportunity to see perhaps eight or nine stunningly beautiful and diverse properties.  These included Mill CottageTree Crop FarmCloud Farm, and The Garden at French Farm.  It’s truly inspiring to see how people have managed to carve out an oasis among the bush or among the fierce wind-swept hillsides.   I came back determined that the Wainui property would some day be part of the tour.  It just needs a little (well, okay, a lot) more work done to it to bring it to the levels we saw.

And Mother Nature has been here for a visit as well, bringing us a dose of alternating warm hot weather with some cooler wet weather which has spurred on, at what seems like a rapid pace, the growth of the veggies and the grass.   Our seedlings were transplanted into the veggie patches in October, and over the last two months there has been an explosion of growth.   Here’s are the ‘time lapse’ photos of the new veggie patch which Fletch dug out for us in September and what it looks like now in December.  It’s bursting with swiss chard (silverbeet), lettuces, borage, chamomile, arugula, onions and some brassicas.   The brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, swedes) are the most difficult to grow organically because the aphids, white cabbage butterfly caterpillars, and slugs just love them and one has to be diligent in ‘managing’ the pests (ie, picking them off by hand and squishing).   It’s been a losing battle and most of my beautiful brassicas have been given over to these little beasties.

New Bed - SeptNew Bed - OctNew Bed - Dec

Meanwhile, the main veggie patch has done quite well.  We are harvesting broad beans and silverbeet and lettuce.  The three varieties of peas are thriving and are almost ready.  The beans and potatoes are doing well.  And we’ve just planted out a huge pumpkin patch (about 20 plants) and a tomato and zucchini patch.

Side Garden - OctSide Garden - Dec

We’re trying to make space wherever we can.   We’ve been ‘sheet mulching’ sections in the lower paddock which has never been cultivated and is currently in long grass.  Our sheet mulching technique is to pick a section, trim back the grass, lay a thick layer of newspaper on top, followed by a layer of wool (we scored a few free bales of wool scraps), followed by a thick layer of freshly mown grass and then letting it sit for a few weeks before planting in to it.   When we’re ready for planting, we poke a few holes into the ‘layers’, dump in some mushroom compost, and then plant the seedlings.  We did this for the pumpkin patches and they are just thriving.   The idea behind sheet mulching is to kill the grass/weeds growing underneath so that it will be more suitable for developing proper veggie beds next year.

Sheet Mulching 1Lower PaddockSheet Mulching 2 - Pumpkins

Ahhhhhh, and the bane of my existence right now is the grass.  It’s grown so quickly and I’ve not been in Wainui enough to keep on top of the mowing.   In some places the grass is over a foot high.  And while this is not necessarily a bad thing, it offends my aesthetic sensibilities and so I have been battling myself as well as the grass to get it to a point of satisfaction to me.    I realized about a month ago that I needed help (mowing help that is) and so I placed an ad in the local paper seeking a mower.  Two farmers responded and came for a look and neither was keen for the job, each saying that our slope was too much for their ride upon mowers to handle.   That seemed a bit odd to me since the former owner of the property had a ride upon on which he zipped all over the property.  But with a bit of research I’ve come to understand that there are mowers for all sorts of terrains.  And though I’ve lost the battle, I’ve not lost the war, because Santa is going to bring me a nice shiny brand spanking new ride-upon mower some time in the New Year!!!

One of the reasons we’ve not been spending as much time in Wainui as we would like is due to our need to be in town for various weekly appointments.   I tweaked out my shoulder a few months ago and it’s been giving me a lot of grief with daily aches and pains and some limited mobility.  I’ve been seeing a physiotherapist and an osteopath weekly for the last eight weeks and while I’ve improved a bit, my shoulder is far from 100% recovered.   They suspect I have a case of frozen shoulder syndrome which could take months to heal.  Blah!     On a more positive note, we have been having weekly meetings with our architect and we are just this week at the point of signing off on the concept design drawings.   It’s been an incredible process to sit week after week, looking at relatively simple renovation drawings and tweak this and tweak that.  The renovation will consist of restructuring the existing kitchen and bath; adding a master suite wing consisting of two bedrooms, a bathroom, small living room, and kitchenette; and tearing down the existing garage and replacing it with a two-story garage with a large studio on top which will provide us with the capacity to hold workshops for groups of 15-20 people.  It’s exciting to have gotten to this stage and next Russell will start the 3D CAD drawings.   We recently reviewed the project timeframe and our goal now is to be ready to break ground by next September (springtime) and expect a four to six month building phase.   So, all you friends out there who are thinking of visiting,  plan for 2010!

House Renovation - KitchenBathHouse Renovation -Master Suite

We also continue to work on our personal development.  I attended a two-day, 10 hour, Anusara yoga workshop with US instructor B.J. Galvan.   The Anusara practice focuses on the divine within each of us and pushes us to explore and play with our boundaries and is always fun.  It was so fun that BJ will be coming back in February to teach a 6-day, 30 hour, Immersion I course which I will attend as well.    We also went to another 1-day Oneness Blessing workshop featuring guest facilitators Cecil and Bruhn from Denmark.   The workshop provided a great space for looking at patterns of behavior, both good and bad, that we bring to relationships, and gave us an opportunity to name them, understand them, and begin the process of healing them.

Oh, and Bruce has been very busy working on a new design for his Merkaba, a repeat of the art piece which he did for Kiwiburn last year.  However, this one is designed to be portable so he can take it to various festivals, and his target is the Convergence Festival which we are going to in two weeks.

Merkabah 1Merkabah 2

And here we are, on the eve of the solstice and the end of year holidays.   As I’ve been reminded by Bruce and a few friends,  ‘you love Christmas’, and I do.  So I’ve taken a bit of a breather from the hectic-ness of life, and made time to see friends this week, decorating trees, sharing a meal, and re-connecting.    We’re heading out to Wainui for Christmas week where we’ll be entertaining for a few days and then we’re off to Convergence for a week-long New Year’s camping festival.   It will be fun.

And so in closing for 2008, I wish all of you a very warm and wonderful holiday and may you find joy in the company of your friends and loved ones, appreciating each others uniqueness and accepting each others quirkiness.  And may you find time to breathe in deeply, release the tensions and stress, and reflect upon and be thankful for this wonderful thing called life.     We miss all of you lovelies out there and will be holding you in our hearts.   Blessings and hugs to all.   And happy birthday Drew!