Saturday, April 22, 2017

Giving It Away

Sometimes when I am tired and the weather is wet and cold or my knees are really playing up, I just wish we didn't have to skimp and save so we can just live.

But today I read this article of a family who are choosing not to use the supermarket and I suddenly felt a shot of encouragement.

Outside the feijoas are falling thick and I feel a certainly responsibility to do something with them all and not have them go to waste. The vegetable garden is also looking a bit soggy and worse for wear after the rains and wind of Cyclone Cook.

In fact a lot of the vegetables have seen better days and I am picking around them to find good parts and produce to eat. There is still plenty and I have already got some greens in for the cooler winter months.

I did realise that for the last month the only produce I have bought at the shops have been bananas.

So today I decided to let myself off by giving away some of our surplus. I have clambered under the feijoas and filled 16 bags, picked 8 huge silver-beet leaves and have left them all at the gate to see what will happen.

We wrote a sign saying "free" with a smiley face - then added "produce" as Harry didn't want the pallet or the bucket going too! I pondered putting a donation box but the box may walk away!!!

We will wait and see if the items go for someone else to enjoy otherwise we might have to try something else.

So if you are passing Bear Street in Tirau - help yourself!.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Compost Bins

Great heading ah?
Really got you interested, didn’t it?
Well I’m not just talking about any old compost bins – I’m talking about Harry’s.

Ever since we were married, where ever we have lived we have always had a compost bin or two. They may have just been a heap on the ground or a ‘bin’ built with pellets or roller door cut-offs. The compost didn’t amount to much most of the time but the idea was there and we would use some of the compost if it wasn’t invaded with convolvulus.

When we first moved to our new home here, we made a couple up behind the garage but then we got Harry’s Dad’s chooks so all our scarps went to them.

When we came to Tirau back in the 80's there was a public dump (My Dad and Harry would have fun shooting the rats at night!) that was free to use. When (especially in spring) there was too much grass clippings we would take it up in the trailer and shovel it off being careful to avoid standing on any rats and more often than not Harry would bring something “useful” home! When it closed the council had a green waste site that was also free to dump grass and thin pruning’s etc. They turned it into mulch which was free to take. When that closed we had to start to pay to use the next towns dump unless we had access to a friendly farmers “bank” to dump it over.

We decided it was time to build some compost bins not only to save costs with the dumping of green waste but to actually have somewhere to put the waste and to make compost for our gardens.

Harry looked at different ideas from books and websites and set about making his own design using all the wood we had around the section. We were really lucky in that we had obtained some left over wood and sown off bits from where Daniel had worked before they were dumped, so we were able to have them. In the end we didn’t have to buy anything for the construction.

At first Harry built two with the idea of one to be added to while the other was doing its ‘cooking’ or composting. But then we realised that we needed three; one for adding to, one for cooking and one for the finishing off.

Bags of stable scrapings 

Harry adds stable scrapings that can be picked up free from the gates at the Matamata racing stables layering it between grass clippings and we add other things like coffee grinds, ash from the fire, food scarps we don’t give the chooks, weeds and leftovers from harvested vegetables. I also empty the vacuum cleaner into it and sometimes rotting cardboard.

The bins have been set up in the vegetable garden at the moment until an area that Harry is still clearing is suitable for them to be installed permanently. The front slates can be slid up and removed to allow for the adding of grass from the wheel barrow easily, then shoveling the compost over to the next bin and finally to be accessed easily as the level goes down.

All in all they are a state of the art addition to our self-sufficiency.

And the compost is superb ... even if I do say so myself.
Finish compost ready for the garden or bagging

Saturday, January 14, 2017

So How Does the Garden Go

As I said in the post below the garden needed a lot of help with the new season of spring and summer.

At first it was a matter of finding what had survived the neglect of an un-kept winter garden. And to our blessing there were some plants that had kept growing. Maybe the weeds growing up protected them keeping moisture in the ground, birds away from them and protection from severe winds, but I found a good amount still edible or just needing a bit more time and attention. As mentioned in an earlier post Harry helped weed and dig over parts of the garden and also set to digging a separate block for potatoes. (We have four blocks that are rotated between gardens, the hen run and just being fallow for a bit.)

Once the garden was cleared enough for plantings it was then a matter of working out what we wanted planted and when. I have been using the NZ Gardeners Garden Diary for a few years and it’s a great guide as to when to plant what with hints and recipes each month as well as planting by the moon. I actually am really following this now although at first I thought it was all a bit fuddy duddy. As a prime example I was planting carrots one week even though they said not to because of the phase of the moon – and – nope nothing came up. A few weeks later I panted when they said to “plant crops whose edible parts are below ground” and presto they came up.

It wasn’t long before we were eating the crops from the ‘lost garden’ and now we are well into enjoying all the new crops as they come on. In fact at the moment the only fruit and vegetables I buy are tomatoes and cucumbers (because ours aren’t ready yet) and bananas and one other stone fruit whichever is cheapest at the time.

So all in all it’s a real blessing and so much healthier to be eating straight from our garden nearly all our vegetables and some fruit knowing they have had no herbicides or pesticides added to them at all.


And to add to it Harry and I are getting fresh air, some exercise and just enjoying working on a common project together – what bliss.

No it doesn't need weeding- that's an example of over cropping and not planning for large produce.

Monday, January 9, 2017

So What Happened?

As promised to some this was going to be a post about how our vegetable garden has been this summer. It started to be that, with me saying that the whole garden had been let go over the winter months because I wasn’t tending it. I was going to briefly say why but then I just got carried away.

You see if you know me or follow my blog you will know that 2016 wasn’t the best for me, and Harry. (I know not good grammar – should be ‘Harry and I’). You will know that Harry suffers from depression and this last year had developed into a hard one. When you love and live with someone who has an illness it all becomes a part of you as well..

Over the years Harry began to hate his job/work one way or another and it affected his illness of depression more and more, bringing it to the surface again. For me this meant everyday he was due home I would be preparing myself for how he would be when he walked through the door. I would never know and sometimes he would be so frustrated, angry or upset and he would need ‘space’ to get over it not even wanting to talk.
If he came home early I would panic – was he sick, had he been sacked or did he resign.
If he was late I would be anxious as to where he was – was he visiting someone, had to stay for work for a talk from the bosses or had he gone somewhere, was he safe ….
Some days when he came home, he was so down he would take a long time to just let what had been building up for him during the day to just let it go.
The stress if all this was not good for me and it played on how I became..

As in the past I had learnt that, for me I had to look after myself first, if I was to be of any use to those around me, and for me that meant doing things I loved or that I could at times blob out on. Things I did around the time of the day Harry was to come home became a mix of playing computer games, having a sleep or just being somewhere else. Eventually for us both we decided with the support of our doctor that Harry needed to leave his work. His antidepressant medication just wasn’t helping with the support he needed though it protected him from himself..

Now of course one of the things I could have done to help me get through all this would have been working in the garden for I have often found relief in this, but it was the winter months and between feeling down myself at times and the wet cold weather, the garden just got left. However, since then, things have changed – a lot – as I will share over the next few posts – I promise..

Not only has the garden done well but Harry has found a passion to get the whole section tidied up after years of neglect. So this too has been like a tonic for him..

Watch this space….

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Change the Thinking

So once again Christmas has come and gone with all the hype and build up, the worry and the joy, the mystery and surprises. What you did in preparation and what you didn’t, really doesn’t matter now as (using the words from the Lion King) “It’s in the past”.

It would seem that so often we allow what goes on around us and the demands and expectations of the media or others, dictate our thoughts and actions whether we want it to or not. The desire to ‘please’ can sap the very joy we want to portray, from us. Even without realising it these outside forces and the news we hear over the days around Christmas will control our very mood if we are not aware this is what is actually happening. Without us realizing it we are propelled into action or reaction and before we know it we are caught up and what is normal for us has gone out the window, so to speak.

When the guests are gone, half the decorations have fallen down and the fridge is still crammed with left overs you are brought to your senses and desire to get back what you had control of in the past. You desire to have the joy and contentment that you treasured. Or maybe you haven’t felt that joy and long to know it.

In reflection I was reading from my book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I hadn’t picked it up for a few days and this day 28th December I read….

I am your refuge and strength, an ever-present Help in trouble. Therefore, you don’t need to be afraid of anything – not even cataclysmic circumstances. The media are increasingly devoted to fear-inducing subject matter: terrorism, serial killers, environmental catastrophes. If you focus on such dangers and forget that I am your Refuge in all circumstances, you will become increasingly fearful. Every day I manifest My grace in countless places and situations, but the media take no notice. I shower not only blessings but also outright miracles on your planet. 
As you grow closer to Me, I open your eyes to see more and more of My Presence all around you Things that most people hardly notice, like shifting shades of sunlight, fill you with heart-bursting Joy. You have eyes that see and ears that hear, so proclaim My abiding Presence in the world.

Psalm 46:1-3 
1 God is our refuge and strength, 
 an ever-present help in trouble. 
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way 
 and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 
3 though its waters roar and foam 
 and the mountains quake with their surging. 

Psalm 89:15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.

The news seems to be filling of famous people dying. Looking back over the past year with all its earthquakes, floods and killings and I did wonder where the news of God’s work was.

I follow the blog Club Organized by Pam Young and one of her recent posts had a similar theme in that she talked about our moods being influenced by the things going on around us. How we can get in the habit of being in a bad mood with a bad thought and feeding it with negative thoughts.

So what can we do…

Take a deep breath and sit. Be in a place where you can see the beauty of God’s creation around you. By a window or out on a deck. If you are in the northern hemisphere by a burning fire or under a cosy rug. Take a note of the quiet sounds around you and find something to smile about. Close your eyes and allow it to be a focus in your mind. Be thankful for it and see if you can find a couple more things to be thankful for. Allow yourself to take control of your breathing and slow it down. Maybe even go for a walk and go to an area where you will not be distracted by traffic, shops or other people. Slow your walk pace and take note of God’s creation as you pass. In this time let the negatives go from your thoughts and grab hold of a positive, a blessing, of someone you love.

As you allow your mind and thoughts to be transferred from the negative to the positive take it slowly to get back into what needs to be done around you and know that God is good. He showers us with blessings every day but we just have to recognise them and allow them to be the influence of how we feel and act.

Christmas is really about love, joy and peace – let the peace of God be with you always from this day on.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Quiet

Did you know it now costs a dollar to send a letter in New Zealand and I’m not sure how much for overseas. I usually send about a dozen Christmas Cards around New Zealand – that’s $12 not to mention the ten or so I post overseas … that’s a lot of money when you are on a sickness benefit.

There are lots of things to do…
Lots of cards to send.
Lots of presents to buy.
Lots of baking to do.
Lots of decorations to put up.
Lots of activities to attend.
Lots of presents to wrap.
Lots of food to eat.
Lots of extra work to attend to.
Lots of…. Lots of…. Lots of….

Do you feel like this and almost overwhelmed?
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this. I love Christmas and do what I can to make it a wonderful time of year. In fact this year is going to be so special, as I have two of my daughters and their families coming to stay so we are going to have grandchildren around and the house will be fill of excited children, chatter, maybe even tired tears but oh so many good memories to make. I know when it is all over I will be happily exhausted!

Tricia Goyer
Last week we had our Church’s Women’s homegroup Christmas lunch (that’s a mouthful!) and I offered to do the devotion. I have a devotional book titled The One Year® Book of Amish Peace by Tricia Goyer and I recalled reading an entry for the middle of December. I am drawn to the simple ways of the Amish free from the demands of materialism and although the book is American/Northern Hemisphere based, the content it still uplifting.

Here is a little of what it said:

"These days there is more than enough Christmas cheer to go around. There are holiday parties, cookie exchanges, and children’s programs. There are gifts to buy, and maybe cards to mail and homes to decorate as bright and beautiful as the magazine covers on the rack at the grocery store. Yet there is little peace. And on some busy, frantic holidays I’m certain that I’ve forgotten that the whole thing is supposed to be about the Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, 
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

In the Amish home, preparations for Christmas start a few days (not a few months) before the holiday. If gifts are given, they are simple gifts for the children, there is often an Amish school Christmas program that focuses on Christ. In fact, in a book for Amish schoolteachers a new verse to the familiar carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was added:

O little In of Bethlehem
How like we are to you;
Our lives are crowded to the brim
With this and that to do
We’re not unfriendly to the King,
We mean well without doubt;
We have no hostile feelings,
We merely crowd Him out.

It seems even the youngest Amish children know what Prince needs to reign in their Christmas! Can you make an effort to remember the same?"

When I was putting up my Christmas Trees I was listening to one of my Cliff Richard's Christmas CD’s and a song came on “Christmas is Quiet”

As I listened I was drawn to the thought of escaping away somewhere to stop and reflect. Over the last few years I have made a point of having a break away either at a retreat or somewhere where I can have a couple of days resting without having to do all the work, in November. It’s something I learnt to do after my breakdown – part of looking after myself. The days in December have fast filled up with all those things to do and I have circled a day on the calendar and called it “Day Off”. I am not going to do any ‘work’ work or Christmas prep. There are no activities to attend. I am going to use the day to sit and read, pamper myself and maybe do some gardening or generally just sit.

I encouraged the group to do the same and ended with the prayer from the book:

"Dear heavenly Father, forgive me for my busy plans that tend to push You out. Help me to focus my thoughts on You today. It is there that I will find peace."

I encourage you to take time out and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas ... that God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us so our sin will not separate us from Him. We celebrate His birth each Christmas.

I wish you a Christmas full of Peace.

Scripture from the New International Version 

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Time To Talk

I have been pondering about this post for some time now, not so much whether to make it but more what and how to say it. In fact I wasn't even sure what title to give it. For those who maybe reading this post or are new to my blog, I just need to let you know that my hubby (Harry) suffers from a Mental Illness of Chronic Depression. That means the depression is ongoing and/or permanent.

This morning as I watched Harry hanging out the first load of washing before I went to work I was touched and had to smile and thank God for this. At the moment Harry is off work because continuing where he was working was tough on him and his depression was becoming worse. At the advice from our family doctor, who had been managing the situation from a medical view over the six months before, Harry finally resigned. Harry had felt humiliated and continually picked on and bullied. Because his meds had been increased to almost the highest level, over the last few months, it was decided for his mental health, that it was better for him to leave, rather than run the risk of something drastic happening. (Harry has had suicidal attempts in the past)

What has made things a little different this time and so in time the outcome, was the recent suicide of a long-time friend. We knew this man had suffered from a mental illness that had developed over the 5 or 6 years before hand but we were not aware that things had got so bad.
Because people don’t talk about it, even the ones who need to.
At our friends funeral it was so upsetting to experience the complete anguish and devastation of his adult children and others close to him.
As usual there is the unanswerable questions of:
Why did he do it?
Why did he not tell anyone that was how he felt?
Why did we not notice?
We have made a promise that we will be more aware of those around us when it comes to mental health and make sure we talk if we see people struggling.

In life I have come to try and find something good in every situation no matter how bad it is. It’s like offering thanks and praise to God in all circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5:18
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

For me it was the comments Harry made after the funeral. He said anyone who is thinking of ending their life needs to go to a funeral and see how it affects others. One of the thoughts a person has when they are that low is that they believe that others, even the ones that love them the most, will be much better off without them being there. It’s hard to comprehend but they think they are too much of a burden that they are of no benefit to anyone and a whole mixture of thoughts run through their head. The depression or mental illness they are struggling with will convince them that these thoughts are true.

A sufferer needs to be able to have the support to help them battle but until they are properly diagnosed or even recognise they have the illness the war can be lost. There are many ways and most of the time it will take a mixture of aids to help someone live as normal a life as they can. In most cases some form of medication is needed even if it is just in the short term to help them come to a place where other treatments can take benefit, while others will need medication for the life of the illness. I also believe that talking and being open about mental illness’s needs to be a top aid as well. The mind set I had, before I understood mental illness, that a person should just choose to be happy and all will be better, is quite naive. We don’t like to talk about it because we are scared of what to say or how to cope with the ‘victim’ or just generally to know or understand. So like many things it is education that needs to be had.

As I watched Harry this morning I was able to smile and thank God. Thank God that Harry is in control of his mental illness. Thank God that he has learnt from the experience of our friend that suicide is not an answer. Thank God that with my support he made the decision to leave a work situation that was extremely unhealthy for him. Thank God that although we are now on a sickness benefit and really struggling with finances we are getting by. Thank God that Harry has taken on jobs around the home to lighten the load for me and also that he is working hard all around the section.

At 63 in two months he still has two years before he can retire and so receive superannuation (which is higher than the sickness benefit) it is hard to know if he will be able to find employment when he is well. In the meantime he is using this time to make sure our gardens are producing food and the jobs that have been taking years to get done are slowly being ticked off the list.

So once more there is something to thank God for.

Numbers 6:24-26
24 “The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you     

  and give you peace.”

 2 Thessalonians 3:16 
16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.