Suddenly, winter…

It’s the 21st of June and the winter solstice here in the southern hemisphere.  Adelaide is putting on a true winter day for us; cold, dark and quite rainy.

Each season brings its own wonderment – different sights, sounds, events, foods and attitudes. But the period from Australia Day on 26 January, until the end of April, is special in Adelaide. It’s the festival season and we spend so much time outdoors.

It was summer

Then it was autumn

Autumn stayed warm, but with cool nights.

Lunch with friends at Oliver’s Taranga vineyard

A perfect autumn celebration of continuous food and wine.  Seriously, we had to tell them to stop!  Delicious flavours and passionate crew hard at work all afternoon.

 

And then Italy

I was fortunate to travel to Italy again this year to study Italian and travel. I’ve documented some of that trip on my other blog here.

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And now winter

It’s time to recharge the batteries.  What’s not to like about baking, stews, soups, winter salads, wooly layers and rainy Sundays with cat snuggles. And a trip to Sydney is on the books.

Winter, I’m ready for you.

 

It’s Summer in Australia – where is MLT?

 

Well, for a change, I am not actually ‘at large’ but at home in Adelaide. I did have a very long trip to Europe which started in Italy (2 months there), continued to Switzerland and Austria then on to the UK before finishing with a few days in Dubai.

My companion blog ‘With my heart in Abruzzo‘ is where I am still writing about my adventures in Italy, with a focus on our time in Abruzzo.

Sadly, upon our return, Andrew’s mum was unwell so we headed up to Queensland to be with her and her companion. Hilda passed away two weeks after we got home. We were fortunate to be with her for the few days before, but we aren’t certain she was really aware of who we were. Her dementia had gotten worse than before we went away and we tried to just agree with her and make sure she was comfortable. Rest in peace dear Hilda.

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Hilda and I back in 1990

Back in Adelaide some weeks now we are contending with summer. It’s hard, I know, but seriously, it had been hot and sometimes uncomfortably so. I’ve had to resort to spending time at the beach or reclining with a fan blowing on me while I read books.

We’ve day tripped down the Fleurieu Peninsula to enjoy the coastal scenery, cooked a few summery meals, drunk some yummy wines and generally enjoyed ourselves.

My hubby, Roo, gardened and completed some painting and picture-hanging tasks while I relaxed and contemplated returning to work and dreamt up schemes for another adventure.

Batteries recharged, it’s time to get back to a routine.

So we are both back at work. I am doing a casual writing job that has started out full-time for a month or so then will slow down a bit to part-time.

I am planning another trip to Italy to continue my study of ‘la bella lingua’, this time for a month in Lecce, Puglia. That’s way down on the heel. I have not been that far south before and look forward to studying at the University of the Salento and exploring ‘il tallone dello scarpone’, ‘the heel of the boot’ that is Italy.

January is nearly over already. I hope you are all starting 2016 out right and enjoying life, wherever you are on the planet!

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!

Home is where the kitties are

We have been home from our big road trip for less than a week. It’s strange to be cold after the warm humid weather we experienced for the five weeks away. But nice to wear some different clothes.

Before we went away our washing machine’s start button was giving us trouble and our poor house sitter had to deal with it giving up the ghost! So task number two (after our traditional welcome home lunch in Chinatown) was to call the repair dude…

Our kitties must have been well loved in our absence because it’s just business as usual for them. Sleep, eat, play, sleep, sleep, play, sleep…you get the picture.

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And suddenly it was February

Oh January, where have you gone? We rang in the new year from the comfort of our back yard with a little drink and some cheese and crackers and bits. It was a warm night and a quiet one for us.

The weather has been very hot for the last month or so and the rainwater tanks are getting quite low, however the garden has produced tomatoes, cucumbers, rocket, cos lettuce and more. Summer really is all about tomatoes and along with some failures we have had some successes!

While composing this post in my head I had the idea that there was not the usual amount of food in our lives in summer compared with winter. Because of the heat we have had mainly small meals and mostly of  the salad variety. Roo does get creative fortunately so a salad is never boring here.

The last month of heat has taken its toll of the cats (our two and the visiting black and white Fufu), seen here just lying low to keep as cool as possible.

We had a minor reprieve with the weather for the last week but, if previous years are anything to go by, we still have some corkers to come. Thank heavens for the bedroom ceiling fans!

The pleasures of home

Today is my last day off before going back to work. I have been off since the 3rd of September, with most of my time off spent in Italy.

Travelling is great, there is no doubt about that in my mind. Here’s a favourite quote of mine:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
Mark Twain – Innocents Abroad

Just as I love travelling, I also love coming home and want to celebrate some of the pleasures.

Lunch in Chinatown
Chilling out in the garden
Seeing the Jacaranda trees in bloom
Our buddies Speedy and Jose Gonzalez

And there are more which I will write about in the future. So welcome home us!

My boys: Andrew with Speedy and Jose

This photo was taken one winter afternoon in 2009. The sun streams into our bedroom on winter afternoons and all my men love an afternoon nap on the weekend. This is also a great place to park with the Weekend Australian newspaper or a book in winter. But I think Andrew has made a bad move wearing all black with those two ginger boys’ hair everywhere. He seems oblivious. Lucky him. Lucky us.

Beauty is everywhere

Life is full of beautiful moments and sights. Sometimes you just need to look in your own back yard.

The Adelaide summer has brought out the best in this Bougainvillea plant in our garden.  It starts out slightly coppery and then goes  hot pink.  I am overwhelmed by its capacity to bloom about 9 months out of the year. No matter how hard Andrew trims it back each autumn, it come back hardy as ever.

Only a few houses away on the corner are 4 specimens in different colours.  Perhaps it’s time to take some cuttings and share the riot of colours around the neighbourhood!

Another beautiful thing is our cat Speedy.  He is very small for a 2.5 year old and he is as cheeky as they come.  He has two speeds, fast and sound asleep.  Here is a beautiful sleeping moment.

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At 2.5 years old, our two cat brothers, Speedy and Jose Gonzalez, are inclined to fight a bit.  But every now and then they just hang out together.  Andrew captured them last week resting on the sun lounge in the garden. Amigos.

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And now for some photos

I usually write here but would like to introduce some photos from our daily life.  Well, when you have a cat or two, they really do rule the house.  Speedy and Jose Gonzalez are two amazing brothers who came into our lives via the local vet who had rescued them.  After nearly a year with no animal we decided to get a new cat.  Call me a sucker, but when we went to the Vet to choose one I could not bear to leave the other behind so we took both. Speedy and Jose are about 2.25 years old now and super kittenish still.  They love to explore and romp and play and play-fight. Speedy is much more gregarious and has a habit of jumping in the neighbor’s bathroom window as well as ours.  He is a bit of a show off and has no fear. Speedy is lean with definite tabby markings but many patches of white all over his body.

Speedy prefers to come in through the bathroom window when it's open

Jose is bigger and less outgoing than his brother. He likes people but is cautious until comfortable. He is quite talkative when you are alone with him.  He seems to worry when Speedy goes off on an adventure and comes and makes us go out in the garden with him to romp when no one is around.  He is not as good at climbing so he requires us to chase him around the garden plants for a bit of fun. Jose has beautiful eyelashes and is a very pale ginger tabby colour.

The more timid Jose Gonzalez

Besides cats, our garden also has a lovely veranda where we eat most of our meals from October till April.  On New Year’s Eve we had a little supper with Champagne while the sun set on 2009.

A light supper to end 2009, Champagne to wash it down
A nice loaf of caraway rye with a few nibbles for a light supper at sunset

This morning we noticed our grapes are ripening so we had a few after lunch.  Some are still slightly bitter but in the main, they are ready to eat.

grow your own!

In a future post I will cover some of the renovation work we have been doing for the last 2 months. But now, it’s bedtime!