Early autumn second harvest

Here in South Australia we are having sublime autumn weather. The summer fruits are gone and the cucumbers just about finished. But the tomatoes have a long season if you do a second planting just around Christmas. These beauties were found at the Adelaide Central Market last night. Our bush at home is getting there too. I see a week of salads to celebrate this lovely second harvest, before the cooler temps settle in.

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A belated wish for 2014

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Greetings from my desk, complete with my new fit ball/desk chair.

The year 2014 and I have gotten off to a rocky start. Already we’ve had some ups and downs.

Roo and I arrived home from our marvellous time in Argentina and Chile, documented here, on 30 December after a long flight. Santiago-Auckland-Sydney-Adelaide. That’s 18 hours of actual flying, but about 24 door-to-door. Ouch!

So we didn’t make it till midnight on New Year’s Eve. It was all I could do to watch the fireworks on TV in Sydney, which is of course a half-hour ahead of us here in Adelaide. My head hit the pillow at 11.47 pm and I was out!

The first week back was filled with restocking the house with food after 6 weeks away, doing copious amounts of laundry and generally tidying our personal effects.  As well, I had registered for an intensive 5 day training course (Certificate IV in Training And Assessment) that required me to do some pre-work in the form of watching some training videos and completing some workbook exercises. My computer decided to give me grief as I was starting my pre-work for the course. Stress levels rose! But I sorted it and averted any major computer or personal melt-down. Suffice to say that first week was full.

Week 2 was my intensive course week. From Monday through Friday, 8.30am till 5.pm, I was in a room with other learners cramming six months of coursework into our five days. This included giving two presentations on which I was judges against a long list of criteria. Because of the compressed time to complete the course there was homework and preparation every night. Half way through the week I started itching. My back felt like I had a spider bite or a bad mosquito bite. However my course did not allow me time to scratch or see a doctor.

My presentations went off without a hitch and I received some feedback that I can use to improve my delivery and my engagement with learners.

Saturday morning I rode my bike to the doctor. One look at my back (and front) and he declared, “Oh, you’ve got shingles”. Great, thanks! My chicken-pox virus from circa 1958 had been percolating along just fine until a point of low immunity when it decided to rear its ugly, red, itchy head.

Meanwhile, on the Friday morning of my course, Speedy the wonder cat was found licking his wounds in the potting shed. He was nowhere to be found when it was time for he and brother Jose to come in the night before. It seems he had a run in with a car, motorcycle or bike. He was limping and had some visible abrasions and a minor cut on one leg. He is a curious and fearless cat, but this has slowed him down for a few days. Roo got him checked at the vet and it seems he’s on life number seven or six of his allocated nine about now…

So that’s where we are now. Fourteen days into the new year and I have gained the qualification I was working for and gotten a disease as a bonus! The cat has had a near-miss but survived another day. The good with the bad.

I do have some hopes for the year. Being healthy is high on the list. Eating well from what each season has to offer is always there. Writing and reading more are also up there. Appreciating the moment, just being, is also high up. And engaging with friends and family and followers, in the myriad of ways and means we have at our disposal, is a goal.

I need a nap. Peace everyone!

A Fig Tree for our Garden

Springtime is planting time and a Fig tree is the latest addition to our garden. This one is known as the Persian Prolific. It’s a “strong grower with mid-season fruit, light purple skin and honey coloured flesh” according to the cultural notes. We look forward to our first fruits!

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I primi di settembre

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In Australia,  early September bring spring with it.  And Adelaide is putting on a spectacular display this year after a long wet winter. The lovely green patch of grass out the back of our house is perfect for spending time with the cats – who are full of energy in the gentle sunshine.

Our front garden is planted with native plants and the grevillea and tea tree shrubs are in bloom.  The native frangipani (Hymenosporum Flavum) is ready to burst into flower as well.

A workmate of Roo’s has a supply of freshly caught fish and we were lucky recipients of some squid and whiting on the weekend.  We put the fish to good use for a light lunch of pan-fried whiting with a pear and rocket salad.

Seafood and salad weather
Seafood and salad weather

Temperatures in the high 20s and 30s Celsius are a sign of sandal season and the green Birkenstocks got their first workout of the season.

Sandals out for the season
Sandals out for the season

I have to admit I am not a winter hater like some; I enjoy wearing cozy layers of clothing, not being sticky sweaty all the time, and not having to be slathered in sunscreen against the summer sun.

But it sure will be nice when the neighbour’s mulberries ripen. There are a few berries just starting to colour so it should only be a matter of weeks if these first days of September are anything to go by.

Pizza fatta in casa ~ Fleurieu Style

Perfetto
Perfetto

Da tre anni sto studiando italiano con lo stesso gruppo e la stessa insegnante. Di tanto in tanto diversi membri del gruppo si riuniscono socialmente. L’ultima di queste riunioni è stata alla casa di campagna della compagna di banco Maura e suo marito Vic. La loro casa di compagna si trova nella splendida penisola di Fleurieu, a circa un’ora a sud dalla città di Adelaide. Maura e Vic hanno avuto un forno a legna costruito sulla loro proprietà, e siamo stati invitati per il più iconico dei piatti della cucina italiana, la pizza.

Il viaggio verso la proprietà è molto bello in una giornata invernale. Le colline, normalmente asciutte, ora sono verdi dopo le piogge consistenti nelle ultime settimane. Gli animali sono in abbondanza sulle strade: canguri, mucche, alpaca, pecore, anatre, oche e una profusione di uccelli nativi. Abbiamo superato un cartello stradale per i koala e sicuramente erano fra gli alberi, mentre passavamo di là.

Si, guarda da vicino, ci sono canguri...
Si, guarda da vicino, ci sono canguri…

Quando siamo arrivati la pasta si era già stata allievitata, e il forno a legna era già acceso. Maura ha iniziato a stendere la pasta per le pizze, poi ha messo i condimenti su. Vic ha cotto le pizze al forno. E noi abbiamo apprezzato le pizze che ha risultato.

Il pomeriggio si è concluso con un recital musicale; Vic ha tirato fuori la fisarmonica e ha suonato qualche melodia. Poì Nick, il marito di Nicoletta, ha dimostrato anche le sue abilità con la fisarmonica. Siamo abbastanza sicuri che abbiamo intraveduto un luccichio negli occhi di Nicoletta mentre guardava il marito carezzando le chiavi di madre-perla …

Insomma, è stata una giornata stupenda con gli amici, il cibo, il vino e la musica.

Summer, where did you go?

Oh dear, I hope that three months between posts is not the new normal. But it has been a full three months as expected back in my January post.

A frantic pace was maintained by Roo, Giulia (la cugina) and I with performances and events galore during the March Madness season in Adelaide.

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I Cugini, Giulia and Lou

Giulia’s two month visit has come and gone in a flash. We managed to get to Melbourne together for four days and to meet up in Sydney after Giulia’s Outback Tour.

Giulia and I volunteered as marshals for the Adelaide Fringe Opening Night Parade and that was a blast to get a front row view of the homegrown colour and spectacle that we have all come to expect from the parade.

Roo, bestie Kat and I saw Neil Young with Crazy Horse and were blown away by the musicianship and Neil’s strong clear voice. A truly heartfelt performance.

At the Adelaide Festival of the Arts, Giulia and I saw a few performances but the standout for me was one I had not planned to go to but am glad I did – the wonderfully skilled dancer Sylvie Guillem.

The summer was very hot this year so our garden was not as generous as in previous years. We did manage some decent tomatoes though. And I once again made the recipe called Tomato Party from Plenty, a cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Tomato Party!
Tomato Party!

Before Giulia left we got in a few more day trips, to wineries in McLaren Vale and as we usually do, we popped over to Port Willunga for a little beach walk.

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Port Willunga Beach cliffs

Since G wasn’t flying back to Rome until the evening we decided to have a good day of bike riding to tire her out for the journey. We rode to Henley Beach then home again and had a beautiful day for it.

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Bike ride along coast – West Beach, Adelaide

Daylight savings has now ended and my bike ride home will be in the dark. The view from the bikeway over South Road at Glandore makes for a lovely end to a work day.

We now have a beautiful Indian Summer in progress but it’s just a matter of weeks before the real chill settles over Adelaide. It’s all good!

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Almost home when I get here…

Back to normal?

So, the last 6+ weeks have been all about our trip to India and Malaysia. The planning, doing and the posting of photos and memories. But I’ve been back at work a week now and it’s time to take stock and think about the year ahead.

At a glance it’s like most years: It all starts with summer, Roo’s Birthday, Australia Day, Anniversary, The Tour Down Under and Big Day Out.  That’s just January.  But wait, there’s more.

February brings cousin Giulia from La Bella Italia! The Adelaide Fringe opens (yay), and the Turner exhibition commences at the Art Gallery of SA. Alongside the Fringe is always the Garden of Unearthly Delights. The Fringe and the Garden span into the first half of March.

March brings the Adelaide Festival of the Arts, which features some ‘out there’ stuff this year.  Looking forward to seeing some of the free stuff as well as paid performances. Free includes opening night with Paul Kelly and Neil Finn and on my to see list of paid things is Laurie Anderson with Kronos Quartet!  And the late night club at the Festival, Barrio must be visited this year. Oh, and did I mention Womadelaide?  Clearly Adelaide’s March Madness is in no danger of going away. Refer my past post on this subject.

So maybe the first quarter of the year is not a good example of ‘normal’.  But it’s the best time to be in Adelaide.  I’m sure glad to be home for a spell.

A walk in the neighborhood

I ride a bike. The kind with pedals. I ride to work, to the Farmer’s Market, to yoga, to the local shops. Day after day, week after week, I ride a familiar circuit, noting the changes due to road works, house renovations, landscaping and businesses changing over.

Today I decided to leave the bike at home and walk part of my daily trip. I was astounded at how different it all looks on foot and pulled out my phone to capture a few images.

I’m a self-confessed Italy freak, but I really do appreciate my own back yard. Please enjoy!

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April come she will…

We really were blessed with some fabulous weather this April. The track pants and socks took longer than usual to make their first appearance for the year.

Daylight savings time is over and the days are getting a little shorter, but the weather felt like summer right through Mid-April. It was nice, but kind of weird, like someone forgot to turn on Autumn.

There are now signs of Autumn in the garden. Roo pulled out the tomato and tomatilla plants today. And harvested the last of the tomatoes and cucumbers.

This April marks 5 years since our beautiful mother Louise Pergolini Tucker passed away. It’s the first year that I have just smiled when I think about her rather than well up with tears (remembering all the times I could have been a better daughter). I still miss her and dad heaps.