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Delight and Things

a little peek at what delights me

I have to apologize for my absence.

There’s no excuse for it, really, but I’ve been a bit preoccupied with other things. I’ve begun a new job at a grocery store in a town a half hour from here, which has been keeping me busy. And then I’ve also been getting all the paperwork sorted out to apply for permanent residency here in Australia so I can continue to live here with my partner. We both know that with his family business there is no option for him to come back to Canada to live with me, but I couldn’t imagine going back home without him, so the next logical option was to apply for residency. All very exciting, yes, but also very hard. Not hard as in requiring a doctorate to complete, but hard as in complex, organizationally difficult due to our location (the middle of nowhere), boring (that’s right, I said it, paperwork is boring), homesickness-inducing, and stressful. And this is all prior to even sending in the paperwork – then it’s up to 12 months of waiting to find out whether or not I’ve been approved!

And to top it all off I’ve used up my supply of real Canadian maple syrup, which was a comforting friend when combined with pancakes on a paperwork morning.

I guess the worst part of it all is that I know if I’m granted permanent residency here it means I will officially be living life on the opposite side of the world as my family, which breaks my heart a little. But I think it’s worth a shot in being happy. I guess it’s just time to apply for a credit card that’s linked to Star Alliance airlines so I can at least be getting some flight points.

So that’s what’s been taking up most of my brain space lately, and I’ll admit I find it difficult to post on the lighter side of life when all life seems to be is a big solid wall of stress. But we’re almost at the end of the paperwork tunnel, where I can send it away and let someone in an office think about it for a while instead, and I’m starting to feel calmer again. So perhaps it’s time to pick up my head and refocus. Back to the simple and fun things in life.

So, here’s an update on the country life.

It’s almost winter here on the Eyre Peninsula and that means the boys are back out on the tractors, seeding. With the business’ acquisition of a new farm last month this means looooots of work for them. The good part about Jamie and his family is that they simply love farming and are excited to get some grain in the ground. But I know that the initial excitement of seeding will wear off, so I’ll continue to bring coffees and dinners out to Jamie on the tractor and hope it makes his hours more bearable.

The nicest part of it being almost winter here is that it means rain, and that means green. Grass is shooting up quickly on the property and even the barley and wheat is starting to shoot through the earth. My evening runs have been beautiful, with the almost-setting sunlight making all that green seem extra bright. Everything in my garden is bouncing back after the hot dry summer and I’ve planted new winter veggies.

Green grass against dark brown freshly sown paddocks, flanked by the Darke Range.

It also means lambs. It’s always nice to go for a drive or a run and to watch all the tiny little lambs out in the paddock. You can’t help but think they’re cute. Although this year I feel like I haven’t had a lot to do with them, it’s actually a good thing, it means there’s been no orphans. (So far… let’s hope it stays that way!)

The winter weather means the house is cold, and we have yet to fit chopping wood into our busy schedule, but for now we know the pub has a fire going every night so we can always pop in for a quick warm up. Everyone else in the district has this in the back of their heads, as well, which usually means the pub is a busy and social place to be, which is a welcome change after the emptiness of summer!

And – an added bonus of me working in a grocery store? Fresh food, all the time. There’s never a night now where I come home wondering what we’re going to have for dinner. I’ll start sharing recipes soon. Let the cooking continue!

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I took this photo a while back when I “helped” put the sheep in the yards. (And by “helped”, I mean I was mostly just taking photos. Good thing we have a working dog who can’t get enough of pushing up sheep.)

Although it’s not the greatest, sharpest, most beautifully composed photo, I couldn’t resist sharing it because I just love how the light illuminates the clouds of dust.

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Just another evening on the farm – trust me to turn a sunset chore into a photo shoot instead…

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This time last year I was visiting a friend in Sydney. One morning I received a photo via text message from my guy at home with the accompanying text “look! a flower!” (or something along those lines – I’ll admit, I don’t remember the exact words). It was a strange red flower that was poking out of the earth, with no leaves.

I was intrigued. I asked him if he knew what it was, and he replied that he did not, it had just started growing at the edge of the yard.

“And there are no leaves?”

“It doesn’t seem so.”

Hmm. And then when I got home two weeks later the flowers had wilted and died off. But the crazy part was, there were green leaves coming up now, thick and waxy ones which reminded me of a tulip or an amaryllis. The leaves remained for autumn, winter, and most of spring, until it started getting really hot. Then it died back.

This year when we saw the shock of red coming up through the straw mulch (I created a garden bed around the area it bloomed last year) my curiosity could no longer handle it. Cue Google.

Ahhhh the power of Google. It seems I’ve got a Blood Lily (Haemanthus) growing happily in my yard, obviously put in by the previous owners, and managing to survive without any proper care while no one occupied the house. Apparently it’s originally a South African bulb.

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This year’s blood lily. You can see that although there’s a few weeds around the base of it, it’s simply a stem shooting up out of the ground.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share my delight in the fact that despite us even knowing it was there, it came up to grace us with it’s presence in my garden. And it kicks all norms to the curb by flowering before producing leaves. Nature’s cool.

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I didn’t want to believe it. But there’s no denying this:

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Curious, I checked out the info on the summer photo, thinking I took it ages ago. Not so. It was only 20 days ago.

20 days. That’s the difference 20 days makes. Imagine it in another 20.

All of my friends and family back in Canada are currently getting excited at green shoots poking through melting snow. That fact coupled with my ivy photo gives me the irrational urge to throw all of my plans out the window, jump on a plane, and fly over to the Northern hemisphere to join them in their enthusiasm for all things spring.

Don’t get me wrong – I love autumn. It’s especially nice here, when we’re getting the odd spot of rain to help things green up a bit, and the temperatures have cooled down from the 40s so I can get out and enjoy running again. The dark mornings mean my boyfriend sleeps in till 7 (believe me, that’s a sleep in in our neck of the woods) but it’s still light long enough in the afternoon to get out and enjoy the evening. It’s the time when the boys are getting tractors and land ready for seeding, and ewes are getting fat in preparation for lambing. But it’s also the harbinger of winter, which means dark mornings and dark evenings, cold toes and noses, and frosts doing their best to damage my winter veggies. Which makes me anxious.

I know I should just embrace winter. Find some things I love about it. And I will try – but for a little while longer I’ll grasp on to the last remnants of summer and attempt to just enjoy the nice things that autumn has to offer. Starting with a pretty photo of the ivy displaying it’s new outfit.

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I have a ton of pureed pumpkin in the freezer from last October when I roasted up the jack’o’lanterns we made (they’d only been out one night, lined by foil, no rotting had occurred) in order to make a pumpkin pie – not a treat normally consumed here in Australia, Thanksgiving or not. Especially not in October, seeing as pumpkins are lucky to be seedlings here at that stage, and my struggle to purchase whole pumpkins prior to my Halloween party was proof of that. Too add to all Canada vs. Australia confusion, we ate our pumpkin pie after Halloween, when normally it would have been consumed two weeks prior. When you can only get your hands on a few pumpkins, you have to switch your holidays around to make use of what you’ve got – doesn’t everyone?

(This continues to happen, too – there were no St Patrick’s day treats at our house due to no green food colouring. I considered doing a Valentine’s repeat instead, however with Easter coming up fast and furious this year I figured we should just keep moving forward with the pink holidays. But I digress.)

So anyway, I woke up the other morning with a major chocolate craving and thought to myself, “Self, how can I turn a chocolate craving into a suitable breakfast food? And self, remember you have no milk, because you’re not so good at keeping up with the dairy needs of this house. But you doooo have tons of pumpkin.” Perhaps pumpkin muffins. With chocolate in them. So I looked up a recipe. See it here. And it was beautifully healthy, counteracting the chocolate within. But – although the town-living Canadian me would probably have the quinoa and/or kamut flour the recipe calls for (or spelt or rice or something along those lines), the country-living Australian in me most certainly doesn’t, and doesn’t even have the option of getting them, short of driving 6 hours to Adelaide.

But no big deal – I just subbed whole wheat flour and plain flour. And our flour is freshly milled at the local mill using local grain (it’s possible some of the wheat the boys grew is in there!) which actually makes me feel really good about the less-healthy option. At least it’s local.

And instead of chocolate chips, which I also didn’t have on hand, I opted for chopped up dark chocolate. I even threw in a few bits of white chocolate in there for good measure (and because I had a bit left that I wanted to use up).

These are seriously delicious, as I found out 20 minutes later… although it was a tough 20 minutes, I’ve never been good at waiting for things to bake! And mine required a bit of extra time due to a dodgy oven seal. So more it was more like 30 minutes of salivating. But so worth it in the end, the house smelled amazing and the muffins were perfect. Such a great way to use up extra pumpkin puree – I’ll be making much more of these in the future.

(And my apologies for the lack of photos. Unfortunately my camera was out of battery and by the time I’d charged it, the muffins were gone. Which means all you get is a quick doodle of a pumpkin and chocolate math equation – making math fun!)

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Half of the district, myself included, headed to Port Lincoln on Sunday for the annual Kimba Cup horse race. Always a popular day out for people on the Eyre Peninsula, this year marked the 100th year – so celebrations were in order.

Now, not everyone is into gambling at the races. I’m not much of a gambler myself – much to my man’s chagrin, because I’ll often pick a winner but never back it. But I still love going to the races. It’s usually just a beautiful day out with good friends, a few drinks, and fantastic people watching. The best part? Race day fashion. Usually there are gorgeous dresses, hats, and fascinators to admire and covet. Never have I experienced an event where people put so much time, effort and thought into how they appear. (This may be due to my upbringing in an adventure sports town, where the most you thought about your clothing was how well it was going to move and whether or not it was going to protect you from the rain or snow).

So in a stroke of forward-thinking genius, I recently purchased some feathers and buttons and ribbon and things to create the perfect fascinator to match my dress. See, the last few times I’ve been headwear-less due to poor planning the lack of hat shops on the farm.

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Armed with my craft glue, I got to work. I used felt for the base of the fascinator, cut into a teardrop shape, and glued two pieces together and let dry on a upside down bowl to get a bit of a curve in it. Then I sewed/glued an alligator clip on. Then I got to work with the feathers – layering them based on size and colour, and sewing each one down individually. (I can’t say the back of the headpiece is very tidy!)

Once all my feathers were on, I painted a piece of lace that I had black (as my dress had a bit of black in it) and once dry, glued that onto the bottom, folding it over to cover up the fluffy bits and feather ends. Then I stuck the last of my cream feathers through the pearly buttons I had, and sewed those on, too. Voila – a fabulous fascinator that perfectly matches my dress!

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Here’s a sneak peak of what’s been keeping me busy the last few days… check back in to see it in it’s completion.

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