The credit card trap

The clock strikes midnight and there is the end to Christmas 2019! Instantly every media area is full of Summer Sales, End of the Year Sales, the news is filled with that retail is concerned about the pre Christmas sales and not enough spending before so their hope is money will be spent at the sales. Credit card debt and personal debt in Australia is increasing rapidly. Yet when I go to second hand shops and tip shops I see so many incredible items with no wear some with tags still on, in great condition. I recently picked up a bed side light for $10. I needed one, but could not afford to buy any new that I had seen. This was a solid metal durable movable one. I had seen similar new for over $80.

I think I have mentioned previously I do not own a credit card. I learnt the hard way how credit cards can cause financial problems. I had one as I was looking at buying a house. I had previously had a personal loan for a car, and I assumed this would be enough to provide proof of my history for paying back the loan. I was knocked back for a mortgage as there was not a recent credit history!

I struggled to comprehend how this could be since I had no debts. Seemed the banks did not like that.


It was suggested I get a credit card, to establish a credit history. Sigh. So I did. I requested the lowest amount as my limit. $1000 AUD. Well the out come was I kind of got carried away with what I could now buy! I spent more money than I earned and before I knew it my balance was $1000. I paid it off $200 a month as I was paid monthly at that time.

Then Christmas was coming and I wanted to give friends and family great gifts. The balance on my credit card was about $500 at this point so I contacted the bank and requested an increase in the value of my line of credit. They put it up to $5000 it went to my head. Christmas coming and friends saying lets go for a holiday to Queensland. I was in spending heaven.

I listened to things my family and friends said they would like for Christmas and went and bought the dearest thing they mentioned. I want to make them so happy. I said yes to the trip and paid airfare accommodation on the credit card. I felt so excited. It was going to be a brilliant Christmas! I also had the trip to look forward to in mid January. I had no savings, and was just paying the minimum monthly payment on my card. I worked and bought take away food and coffees everyday. I also went out a lot socially dancing and eating out with friends. I was living the life.

Christmas came and my extravagant gifts were appreciated. I felt so good. I was now looking forward to our holiday.

On arriving home, I was so happy. I had had a lovely Christmas. One of my friends rang a night or two later and said lets go grab a meal. I said OK. Nice meal and we laughed and enjoyed being together. The bill came and I put my credit card on the table to pay my share and my friend put cash. The waiter took it away but a short time later came back and said I am sorry but your card has been declined. I was mortified. I walked over to use my debit card. Insufficient funds. Oh my there must be some mistake. My friend fortunately had enough cash to cover my share and I said I would pay her back as soon as possible. Which I did.

I paid a bit of the card to get it back under its limit but in not too long it was up again and I struggled to pay anything than the minimum payment off, I ended up paying a few dollars more to bring it back under the limit. I was still spending on it though.

I went to pay my electricity bill a couple of months later and my credit card was declined again. Not only that they informed me it had to be cut up! I was so embarrassed. As this was a final demand or my power would be cut off if the bill was not paid by that date.

On the way home I checked my bank balance $3.60 woah! (I would not be paid for two more weeks). That was all the money I had in the world! I was over $5000 in debt and my power was going to be cut off. I had some groceries and a bit of a pantry even back then. However if my power went off my fridge would not work nor my fully electric oven or the microwave or washing machine in my rental flat. I was very fortunate at this point in one way that my rent for the month was taken out the day my monthly pay went into my bank account.

I was going to be two weeks before I had any more money. The power went off on Friday afternoon, and I went all weekend with no power. I was so up set and shocked at my situation. I was going to a family dinner on the Saturday night, and realised I was going to have to tell them my situation.

I did and it was bad, I was so upset at myself and embarrassed, and neither parent would lend me any money as they thought is would be better that I really learn the lesson of living on what you earn! I was devastated as I really believed they would rescue me. I left early returning to my dark flat and cried angry tears at them for not helping me.

I ate some really weird food over the next two weeks. I had no social life, as I could not bring a plate, or go out to eat. Or even a coffee. It was work, home hand wash some clothes, work out what I could eat. Let me tell you cereal with water is not very nice. But it filled a empty stomach. I ate cold baked beans, and spaghetti no bread. I ate cold tinned soup mixed with water cold. I was incredibly fortunate I was renting a unit water still operated even with out my power.

When I finally got paid I had to pay a re connection fee and the bill.

The good news with this experience was I have never had a credit card again! I live quite OK with out. I only live on what I have and budgeting and shopping lists and my pantry have been the difference. I pay my bills when they come in. I don’t wait until the due date, as If I have some money in my account after my costs I pay some of it off the bill and when my next payment comes in I pay the rest. I will even pay extra on them.

Why on earth would anyone do that? It gives me some wiggle room. Now I am on a very low income I have to be very aware of when my big bills are due. My home and content insurance and my rates. I am very fortunate that my council has quarterly payments, as this year for the first time I am paying the quarterly but even then I pay more if I have it.

When my insurance is due, I usually do a few weeks of spending very little if I have not been able to budget enough fortnightly to save for it.

The most interesting thing is I don’t really recall the holiday I took, or what I purchased, the place I ate out or clothes I bought. I had fun and the friends I was so generous with are not in my life anymore. The regret I have is how much I spent and that I thought I could buy friendship. I regret extending the credit card beyond my financial income and needs. I still would have been able to go away on the holiday.

Did the credit card help me get a mortgage it must have because when I re applied for a mortgage I got it. What having a credit card did for me was to put me in a situation I never wanted to be in again.

I was really hurt and angry when no one in my family would rescue me. As it is this episode of tough love was the best thing they could have done for me in the long term. It changed my mentality.

I may live on a tight budget and am frugal. I still can afford to meet up for a coffee at a cafe (as I don’t let anyone into my home that is another post). I look at what I have. I am not against anybody going to the sales if they need something.

The things I am really thankful for are that I own my home out right, that I have no debt. If I was not in this situation when I had my breakdown and was so ill mentally I have no idea what would have happened to me. Even being in this situation I did have thoughts of suicide. I can not imagine what might have been if I in such a secure environment had these thoughts, how much harder it would be if I was paying a mortgage, or renting. I would have lost my home, not been able to afford to rent. I may be homeless living in my car not working. I know this is a situation for many people. I know I am so rich and fortunate. I have a good roof over my head. I have clean water to drink, I am content.

I don’t have children. So again this does make it easier in so many ways for me. I still believe that if you have a mortgage you need to be paying this off first and foremost. If you become ill or loose your job, how will you pay for it? Perhaps you have income insurance, great ..

I have spoken to a someone I know recently as we were talking about finances and she asked me how I could live with out a credit card. I said pretty easily really. Firstly even if you do pay you full amount off every month you still have to pay an annual fee for the privileged of having a credit card. She is also paying a mortgage. We chatted about how much a month she spends on her credit card it was a lot to me. She is on a good income. I asked her did she need what she spent on her credit card, or was it she wanted the things. She looked at me. I looked at her and said that is how I began to realise how to pay off my debts.

If you need something that is fine. If you want it, why do you want it. Look at how much you could save if you added that to your credit card debts/mortgage. (This is another post in the near future)
I said to her CUT UP YOUR CREDIT CARD! You can learn to live without it. Using cash brings you back in touch with the value of money. You take it out of your bank account…you have to hand the money to pay for the things you need or want. You begin to see where YOUR money is really going.

I am fortunate as on a benefit I have a bank account that I do not have any charges on. (Thank You Bendigo Bank, I get nothing for saying this). I pay cash for nearly everything.

Perhaps it is living in a rural town community, that makes a difference. If I don’t quite have the money to pay for the groceries on the day, and I hardly ever do this, but my local independent grocery store will let me pay it when I can, usually for me it is the next day. I also use local tyre company and they will let me pay off tyres (set of 4) I am also able to get an interest free loan up to $1000 through a government scheme. So there is a support there if I needed it. I have filled up my car and gone to pay, and not realised that my automatic payment for my internet was taken out leaving me less money(i know my dates now) and fortunately the guys at the petrol station no me, and I could pay them next week. I do not make a habit of not having enough money. I now check my balances and make sure that I have enough petrol to get me to my next payment date. though life can cause things to happen where petrol is required to be used that I have not budgeted for.

I do not have savings per say because extra money is usually earmarked for a bill in the future.

Perhaps the most important thing for me with my Complex PTSD is that I keep my stress as far as possible to a minimum. Being debt free has helped immensely with that. Learning to be content being at home has also been a saving bonus and a joyful thing. Part of my managing the many issues that my illness can cause me is minimising things that I may get anxious about. Distressed about, so knowing where my money has to go is the first step in my planning for the next 12 months. Anything that I can put in place to help me manage helps me to live in more contentment. Not having debts. Huge HUGE

Tazzie

Australian Fires.

As the eastern areas of NSW and Victoria burn and the death toll sadly rises, and homes destroyed my heart aches for all the communities impacted. These extraordinary weather conditions the heat that our Government continues to deny is in any way related to Climate Change. This Saturday the weather forecast is equally if not worse than New Years Eve.

Here in my little valley Huon Valley in Tasmania we were in on going fires from before Christmas through to May, and we know that many local business reliant on summer visitors are still recovering. So I cannot imagine how long and the trauma that these communities will be dealing with and the length of time it will take.

I am not including any photographs on this post as Australian Fires season has been going since September. I find it so unbelievable that fire fighters the majority in rural communities volunteers who give up so much to defend out primary infrastructure, and communities. Often loosing their own homes and sadly I believe 7 fire fighters have died while fighting. Because they believe in the communities they live in. Reports are saying 5Million hectares/12,355,269.07acres have burnt.

In a total fire ban, where people where fleeing their homes and other died defending them or on their way to safety, both state capitals Sydney and Melbourne went ahead with New Years Eve Fire works, and from what I have

Stephanie Bed http://www.news.com.au/sport/cricket/scott-morrison-slammed-for-insensitive-comments-about-australian-bushfires/news-story/c000756d5f2253495e3fd9fdc2042ac6

Echidnas and me

For any new people reading my blog, welcome. You may have worked out that I kind of love echidnas. I have posted two previous posts about these awesome animals. I am so privileged to have at least one that visits my home.

Whilst I was reading and compiling the information on the previous posts, I began to notice some interesting things about echidnas, and me. The me who has been diagnosed with complex PTSD.

listal.com

We are both happy being solitary. We can both be prickly and dig ourselves in for self preservation. We both enjoy digging in the soil, a lie in the sunshine and will spread out out to cool ourselves on the ground, we both like to swim.

They burrow in when unexpected visitors(dogs, dingos, eagles, humans, ) disturb them, and will only come out again after a resonable period cautiously to make sure the visitor has gone. Then go back to what they were doing. Me I hide behind the curtains and don’t answer the door! I wait to be sure the visitor has gone and return to what I was doing.

Australian Echidna Image @Oceanwideimages.com
Echidnas mating

They keep to themselves with the exception of mating…well no not like me I am not looking at a relationship at all. Being on my own is good. I have never had several males interested in me at any one time. I can totally understand why the female echidna prefers to be on her own. If only human babies could be looked after for a period of time and then be left somewhere and mum only has to pop back in once a day! (I know there is child care and boarding schools) I am not a mother. I do NOT dislike babies or children. This is a display of my humor!

We both prefer to hibernate during winter, but will move if we really have too.

Puggles are very cute and look cuddly but you cant cuddle them.

Puggle, (baby echidna)

In case you are concerned as we all should be not only for the loss of human life, homes and businesses, in the Australian fires so far this year, we should also think about the native animals and the rescue organsitations doing all they can to help those found injured and burnt. There is so much burnt land that the territory is not going to be able to support those that escaped and those that survive their burns and injury will be able to go back to.

This is a young Echidna who had buried itself in the ground, you can see how its spines are all one length where the fire moved over it, it has burns on its legs perhaps trying to escape it is being cared for at Wires.

Echidnas are perhaps a bit more able to survive, than say Wallabies and Kangaroos and especially Koalas. Echidnas will attempt to escape fires by going into torpor, echidnas reduce their metabolic rate and lower their body temperature. This, according to research published in April 2016, gives them an uncanny knack for surviving bushfires. … Echidnas often nest underground in burrows or inside fallen logs, which can protect them from the heat and smoke of the of the flames. In research conducted in 2013 researchers took advantage of a controlled burn being conducted by the authorities in woodland south-east of Perth in Western Australia. They identified 10 short-beaked echidnas living in and around the area that was due to be burned. They had tracked 10 echidna that were found with in the controlled burn area, fitted them with tiny GPS tracking devices and monitored them prior and for 31 days after the controlled burn. (source) http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160513-when-confronted-with-a-raging-wildfire-echidnas-go-to-sleep

However, while this chilled-out approach to wildfires may well give echidnas an edge, it does not work every time.

This #echidna caught our eye straight away, what an odd sight – what could have happened to its spines? But apparently the bushland around where it was seen had recently been controlled burned! EchidnaCSI @echidna_csi




During their study, Researcher’s team found three echidnas that had perished in the blaze. One was an animal they were tracking, which seems to have dropped into torpor inside a fallen log that caught fire.

Previous research has shown that echidnas can wake from torpor and move off at speed when threatened by smoke. In fact, another echidna resting in the same log woke up and fled – but its companion was not so lucky.

It is not just Bush Fires of controlled burns that impact Echidnas. Human day to day activity does. Echidnas being hit by cars and earth moving equipment digging up or flattening burrows, forestry, increasing populations moving into the bush as towns increase and tree changers move.

Catastrophic fires, the worst drought in history and record high temperatures are taking a tragic toll on native wildlife.

IF YOU DO COME ACROSS AN INJURED OR DEAD ECHIDNA (OR ANY NATIVE ANIMAL) CHECK ITS POUCH! If you can move the animal off the road, and if you cant remove the baby and its alive, contact your wild life rescue service.

Keep the animal warm: Keep the animal dark: Keep the animal quiet: Keep handling to a minimum: Do not provide food or drink.

Tazzie

So this is Christmas

oh look a reindog
another reindog

I am not a religious person. I respect people who are, like any group of people there will be your radical and those that attend the special holiday services only and the majority who do the best they can following their beliefs. Yet Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. Though it seems more and more people see Christmas as a non secular holiday. So what is Christmas for me?

For me it is about the seasons the Summer Solstice longest day here in Southern Hemisphere and the Winter Solstice Shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. The life about me of nature. Christmas time here is normally hot and dry. Though we my first year living in Tasmania, I woke up after a night shift to see snow on Mt Wellington (sits behind Hobart) on boxing day.

The days are long during summer here, and we have a long twilight, which is glorious. The growth of plants, and young animals and birds are what this time is for me mostly.

As to Christmas music I grew up on the Christmas hymns that had very little relevance to me. There I was singing about snow and reindeer, wood fires. All the Christmas cards had snow and more irrelevant images sleighs and roasting nuts. Sitting down to a traditional British roast Christmas dinner with hot fruit pudding(at least my Nan and mum would give us cold custard). Sigh..I knew no different sitting in 35+ dC heat in far west NSW on Christmas day. My Nans wood stove pushing out more heat, since that is what the meal was cooked on. It was delicious, so much effort and exhaustion for my Nanna and mother. Yet so strange.

I really REALLY HATE what Christmas has come to mean. The rampant advertising and commercialism. That how much you spend equates to how much you love people.

St. Nicholas “Lipensky” as he appears on a Russian icon dated to 1294 from Lipnya Church of St. Nicholas in Novgorod – Source.

I find the idea of Santa Clause a bit revolting. We make little kids sit on a strange persons knee and whisper in the persons ear what he or she wants for Christmas. Yet the number of kids who scream and cry not wanting to is large, I still observe parents pushing their children towards this person who must look quite scary.

I think what a confused message are we telling these kids. On one hand; don’t talk to people you don’t know ect. then at Christmas getting them to sit on a strangers knee and ask him for presents. I sure as heck would not encourage any child I know to sit on a strange mans lap and whisper in his ear, asking him for presents. We lie about this creation, filling children’s heads with fairy floss, that you only have to ask Santa and you will get what you want.

Santa Clause is Coming to Town

Print of St Nicholas by Alexander Anderson commisioned by John Pintard (1810) – Source

“He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!”

The stuff of nightmares, and still we sing it!

Father Christmas as pictured in Josiah King’s The Examination and Tryal of Father Christmas (1686) – Source

A friends daughter would not tell them what she wanted for Christmas last year; as it was a secret between here and Santa. No surprise Santa did not giver her the gift she had asked for. This poor 6 year old then decided she must have been a very bad girl, and cried and cried. Her parents could not do anything. The child just did not want to do anything for the rest of the day she had believed!. She trusted this strange creation. Imagine then the parents having to explain why Santa did not get her the gift she asked for. Her parents had lied to her! Santa was not real.

I still recall when I found out that Santa was not real. It hurt a lot. I did not believe stuff my parents said for ages and would ask them to prove they were not lying.

Detail from Thomas Nast’s illustration “A Christmas Furlough” for the front page of a 1863 issue of Harper’s Weekly.

The pressure Christmas puts on people. The totally unreal expectations, that it will be a wonderful time. How awful if you do not have anyone to spend this special day with. I am sure that is true for some people. It is also true for many that being on their own is perfection. Or spending it with the people you really want to rather than those you seem to be obligated to by tradition and family expectations is delightful.

One thing I have worked on since my breakdown and being diagnosed with C PTSD is being stronger. I no longer have a sense of obligation to spend time with my family it never ended well. I only want to spend it with people I choose. I say no if I do not want to be about people and will explain it is my mental illness. My real preference is to be at home with just me and my dogs. Sometimes I will be with people I choose to be with and have a really happy, stuff your face and laugh time. Feeling a sense of peace and friendship. Other times the peace is being at home with just my dogs, the birds chattering in the garden and a cup of tea enjoying my space.

Mrs. Claus says goodbye to her husband as he sets off on his journey in this 1919 postcard

Possibly the first image of Mrs Claus saying goodbye to her husband, dates from 1919.

Two covers for the Saturday Evening Post by Norman Rockwell, the left one from 1920, the right from 1922 – Source

Often I would work Christmas morning shift to enable a parent to have that shift off to be at home with their kids. Most hospitals I worked at would do a 6 hour shift on Christmas Day, over lapping a little. I was happy to work 8 as I would get home about 3:30 enabling someone else with family to stay longer with them. It was always enjoyable working on Christmas Day.

Santa Claus Sugar Plums, showing a red(ish) suited Santa Claus on sleigh with reindeer – Source

It is interesting though I now find I don’t miss anything about the stress and pressure of this time. The disappointment felt when I had taken a long time and a lot of thought to find a gift that I really thought the recipient would like. Only to be perplexed at the response. Or worse hurt as happened one year where my gift to my father became the butt of jokes by the whole family for years. I was a student and had made him a T-Shirt he could wear, he had skin cancer and he had been having trouble finding light weight long sleeved casual shirts to wear in summer. I made him one. With a lot of love and thought, it hurt a lot.

Thomas Nast’s most famous drawing, “Merry Old Santa Claus”, from the January 1, 1881 edition of Harper’s Weekly.

DEBT THE HALLS WITH BILLS OF HOLLY

In Australia last Christmas some research company found the amount of debt created over Christmas was $1863 for every credit card in Australia.

If you spent $2000 on your credit card for Christmas and only paid the minimum payment due it would take you 17years to pay it off and you would pay $5187.

Cover to the first edition of The Life and Adventures Of Santa Claus (1902) by L. Frank Baum – Source

In another report the use of buy now pay later, or pay day loan companies is irresistible at this time of year for many people on lower incomes. Australian Investment and Securities Commission as of June 2018 there is more than $900billion AUD in outstanding balances and majority of users are 18-34.

Of course not all this is from spending at Christmas, I imagine that it would be an easy way to get money to spend for that must have gift, decorations, food. I can not imagine the pressure and worry about how to pay it back. It is yet another reason I do not own a credit card. I have been caught up in the past when I worked and was younger of oh have I got them enough, and buying gifts for people I hardly knew. It was all to do with tradition and expectation and my wanting to fit in and please people.

I ask is this make believe Christmas world really worth this too YOU? It isn’t too me. So I will be spending my Christmas day with my dogs, Eating some things I may not have eaten for ages or not. I may watch TV, garden, go to the beach, sit on the deck and read with a glass of wine or not. I may visit my neighbours for a get together. Most likely. No stress no frustrations, no hassles take a plate share it bring your own drink. Simple easy. I can also change my mind and not feel guilty. I may just stay in bed and read or sleep all day! I am able to do what I want, with who I want. Saying NO thanks is a positive improvement another bonus of my break down.

Santa Claus as illustrated by Frank A. Nankivell in Puck, v. 52, no. 1344 (December 3 1902) – Source.
Norman Rockwell’s cover of Boys’ Life published December 1913 – Source.

When it comes to Christmas, we become collectively blind to the fact that the vast majority of people aren’t able to celebrate it in the way we’ve been told we should, creating feelings of inadequacy, failure and guilt.I I think of the single parents, the homeless, those on Newstart, and other low income earners. Who are struggling to pay for electricity and food without the pressure of Christmas. The incident of domestic violence increases over Christmas holidays. 2018 saw an increase of 20% to police and help lines over the Christmas New Year holidays. Those families where alcoholism, gambling mean there is no Christmas.

I know in my area there are houses that are rented out over winter and then let as Air B n Bs for the summer. The tenants are virtually homeless now, as rental property in the valley is very hard to get. Those mature woman living in there cars are the fastest growing statistic requiring Newstart. Happy Christmas to you too!

I know many organisations religious and non provide Christmas lunches, but not if you are in the rural areas and not close to town. In small towns people will be ashamed at times to look as if they are not able to have a good Christmas or for help or be seen at a organised lunch.

Japanese illustration featuring Santa, artist unknown – Source

I can only imagine how many people will go to bed on Christmas day night exhausted and concerned about what will happen when the credit card or loan payment is due. Alcohol fueled fights increase among families at Christmas. The utter fact we are pushed into feeling obliged by our parents, our churches, our families or even our own dreams of the perfect and wonderful Christmas, that we have seen on TV in the movies or magazines. When instead the reality is not so. That see their children are disappointed with their gifts. That the family argued.

Illustrated front cover from The Queenslander, December 25 1930 – Source

I am not adverse to the decorations and charm of the twinkling lights.

I am no longer caught up in the way Christmas is meant to be.

It is really OK to like being on Your own at Christmas. You do not have to apologise, be happy that like me You have found you Happy Christmas place.

A poster by the U.S. Food Administration. Educational Division, Advertising Section, ca. 1918 – Source

Financial pressure and stress, emotional pressure and stress, time pressure and stress, it seems to me that today the idea of Christmas is not what Advertising, shopping centres, cooking shows, there is NO PERFECT CHRISTMAS!! Well maybe if you are really rich and have someone else do everything for you.

A poster from the Office for Emergency Management, War Production Board, circa. 1942 – Source.
image portrayed by Haddon Sundblom for Santa’s first appearance in Cola advertising in 1931, drawing inspiration from Saint Nicholas’ image.

Back to Santa Clause images I have included in this post demonstrate the evolution of Santa Clause note that Cocoa Cola did not give Santa a red coat, the beard or even the rotund tummy. All were used prior to 1931 when Coca Cola used Haddon Sundblom for advertising and his image took of as the ‘traditional’ way Santa Clause looks. Santa and the Christmas we seem to celebrate in the Western world is all made up!

So this is Christmas John Lennon and Yoko Ono

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

Ans so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

War is over over
If you want it
War is over
Now

Garden Update

I shared about my vegetable garden and some issues with coldness gale force winds a few posts ago. I am happy that now with the warmer weather arriving things are happening. The plants are taking off. As I sit here typing the temperature is 31dC/87.8dF at 19:00/7:00pm day light saving time.

First Tomatoes on my deck.
I feel that this one was impacted by the weather also on my deck
self seeded carrots appeared in a pot?
seedlings some to go to Crop Swap and others into my garden foreground. Those pots in background are my permanent deck pots

On my deck some seedlings still wait for planting out. As it way too hot today, they sit in water and I hope they will be ok. I have quite a lot of self seeded things growing as the carrots in the small pot, some lettuce (mentioned further down that I think was called mother in laws tongue) I noticed a tiny tomato seedling in another pot that I did not plant so it is most likely a cherry tomato. I am thrilled about it as I don’t recall getting any of these and they produce fruit for so long. The potted tomatoes are growing somewhat better than the tomatoes in the vegetable garden. When you look at the photographs and compare there are numerous flowers on the vegie (vegetable) garden ones, yet no fruit development as yet. Which is quite interesting as these are identified as an early fruiting variety. On one of the deck tomato plants you will notice one single tomato with some damage. I put it down to the dramatic change in temperature we had last week. It is all I can put it down too.

You may notice the plastic containers the seedlings are standing in. I have fostered kittens and these are repurposed kitty litter trays. The white bucket is free with a lid from one of my regional cafes. Thanks D.S Cafe in Huonville. who often put out food grade plastic containers with lids and handles rather than throw them away. They will also save up their coffee grounds for you if you ask. You take turns in this as a few people know of them doing it now.

a beautiful Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) tree in my garden.
A wattle tree damaged by the gale winds of last week.
Pelargonium (col geranium think this is lemon scented one )

This area of the garden is a mostly a blend of natives and some winter and autumn flowering shrubs along with bulbs such as daffodils, jonquils, iris, grape hyacinth, the pelargonium. Salvias. A self seeded wattle grove has established itself. Rreplacing the one that fell a few years ago as most wattles (Acacia) only live 10-20years. Blackwood trees which are Acacias (wattles) too, live much longer. I have found them a little annoying in that they spread their roots all under the garden, apparently not liking competition. Though my two seem not to be to bad with some things about them.

I have noticed that if I do hit a root, they will sucker. As I prefer to be a no dig gardener I don’t encounter this issue often. I have planted a cherry tree way too close well it was not when I planted it but the tree keeps on growing. Weird that; chuckle. The time I do come across the roots are when I am removing onion grass. that sends out deep connecting roots to create a new bulblet and more grass. It is one of my main challenges.

Native salvia on a pathway , with a pinchushion Hakea (Proceacea Hakea laurina )to its left and a Huge Coleonema pulchrum aurea – Golden Diosma on a pathway edge. @Echidna Home 2019
Pot on deck self sown lettuce, borage, and marigold @Echidna Home2019

If you look at the photo on the left above you will notice it has many things growing in it. Self seeded lettuce borage, marigold small flowers I have forgotten the name of, there is even a potato plant in there. I must have chucked one in to see what would happen.

I decided to have some1/2 wine barrels for pots. (picture below) They were relatively cheap when comparing them with pots of the same size. These were purchased when I was working. These have had no treatment to protect the insides from continual moisture, and are over 10 years old now. When I got them the smell was awesome, it was almost port like. I did get them filled fairly quickly as I did not want the smell to turn into vinegar and attract vinegar flies. I love them and over the years I have grown many different things in them. Greens but they had to be protected from possums and wallabies, also the possums and other critters used them to get up on the deck escaping the fencing which is why I have pots right on the edge of the deck now. Greek Oregano grows amongst the barrels as a ground cover, with parsley and coriander self seeded coming up when ever it likes. I have a cape gooseberry plant in the garden here and one in a pot on the deck.

wine barrels cornflowers almost ready to flower in the last barrel. @Echidna Home 2019
This is the actual flower from the bush in the photo with the bird bath to the right @ Echidna Home 2019
Bird bath get so many visitors. Post of visitors on near future. @Echidna Home 2019
Open pergola deck area red Pelargonium (col geranium) ground cover soap wort, white flower tansy. @Echidna Home 2019

I am really hopeless at labeling the plants in my garden, I have had plans of ensuring that I will keep a record of everything I plant, where and when. It begins well yet every year I get lost. It has been worse the last few years since my breakdown, it does bother me at times. I look at the seedlings I have now and note several have lost their tags in the wind. I have no idea what they are. It is made harder as I have lost quite a few due to the wild and changeable weather we have had over the past weeks. I recall reading and watching videos and all gardeners said the same thing LABEL LABEL label. sigh. I can not worry or allow myself to get distressed by this as I will fixate and this is not good for me. So I am fortunate that at the moment with medication that is helping me (even though some of its side effects not so good) I prefer me now to me before this medication. I am able to ustilising my work that my psychologist has helped me with to be aware of when I may be starting to fixate, and I acknowledge that I am, that I need to do something else to move my mind brain and bodily reactions away from what ever I was doing. It is working generally so I am pleased.

Peach tree lots of peaches and new growth @Echidna Home 2019

Looking at the photographs of my garden you will observe that it is not a neat and tidy garden. It is a work in progress yet it will never be a tamed garden. Nature is not tamed, and I do not believe in mono-culture as anyI healthy way to grow anything. I want and encourage all sorts of birds, insects, wild life to visit. The garden has many areas (or the trendy word rooms) native areas, sunny areas, areas I am happy to share with the wild life such as Echidnas, possumes wallabies, bandicoots. Others such as the vegie garden and deck seedling area and lemon and lime trees are fenced to discourage wallabies and possums.

Notice the mish mash of garden structures and items used. Over the years I have gathered pots from the Tip Shops (rubbish/Waste tip shops that sell items that can be reused or repurposed at a reasonable price(though like many charity shops prices are rising). I use unusual things that are not actually designed for this use but do work. If I happen to be out on a big rubbish pick up day in Hobart I will have a bit of a drive around to see what is out there. I also purchased the corrugated metal garden beds at a huge discount.

Again purchased while I was working. It takes a lot of time to make enough soil to fill them that I have at times resorted to buying bags of the cheapest potting mixes and adding my leaf compost, worm castings, mushroom compost, sea weed, and other nutrient rich items such as weed tea, worm tea, manure, and straw, wood fire ash from my wood heater. I use it because I don’t get the bark taken off my wood. I also end up due to the process of my excellent North Pacific Wood Heater with charcoal (bio char) brilliant also for the garden. (No affiliation with North Pacific Wood Heaters. I also add the dogs chewed no longer desired bones to burn in it as well. giving calcium.

Old wheel barrow walking onions (Egyptian) @Echidna Home
flowers growing over the grave of my dog who died last year. @Echidna Home 2019

Everything is beginning to really take off now. It will be interesting over the next few days to see how everything is going. I refilled the Ollas (see previous garden post) and watered with seaweed tea before the hot day today. In Tasmania it may seem like the temperature is way hotter than what the gauges actually display the sun seems to have a stronger heat here. It was not unusual to get folk from Queensland (and other places)here on holidays coming in to Emergency with some serious sun burn blistering and or dehydration.

Three Sisters bed (Beans, pumpkin, corn)
fore ground three sisters bed, tomato capsicum lettuce and egg plant bed @ Echidna Home 2019.

The corn has taken off as have the beans and some of the pumpkins and zucchini have flowers but they have not taken off as yet. I am happy with this bed so far so good. It is interesting isn’t it to plant out seedlings from the same punnet that have gone into a bed that you have made to be suitable for growing these vegies, watered each one similarly only to see some not thrive or die. I am pondering what I was growing in that bed last especially in the bottom left hand corner as that area is not doing so well.

Brassica Bed @Echidna Home 2019

Interestingly the brassica beds seedlings of broccoli and red cabbage are developing at very different rates. One of the broccoli seedlings already has a head beginning on it?? The red cabbage seedlings are struggling. Unlike the seedlings on the deck. So I am not sure what is going on there. I have left a kale to go to seed in this bed. It self seeded last year here but other than it I did not grow brassicas in this bed.

Red Currant and Jostaberries, (Cross black currants and gooseberry) @Echidna Home 2019

This is three bushes here a red currant and two jostaberries. The Jostaberries are a gooseberry black currant cross. They have fruited super early and not huge volumes. I seem to have an influx of (Imported sadly)black birds and they seem to have managed to beat me this year at them. Glad I had a good crop last year and made some jam and froze some. They all need a prune and you will notice the very long grass about them. I was going to remove it, until I noted the seed head were formed and that many smaller birds are eating them. It will be cut soon as it is a fire risk. I have so much stuff about that I have been hand pulling the grass, about a lot of this area. I do tend to mulch in place. Last year I forgot to turn the piles and keep an eye on sprouting things. The strange spring and early summer has seen such huge growth in everything. I kind of blinked and missed it ooops tooo late! At least the birds are getting food.

fig in wine barrel and one of my water tanks (plastic) @ Echidna Home 2019
Gooseberry bush @Ecidna Home 2019

My fig tree which had figs on it but with the cold snap then hot days and cold again the baby figs dropped. I am hopeful that it will fruit in Autumn. It is in a half wine barrel. The Gooseberry bush did not produce many flowers this year, I have managed to eat four gooseberries which were delicious. Perhaps again the black birds beat me. I am not going to let them nest in my eaves next year if I can get out on the roof and fix where they are getting in.

unhappy passion fruit. @ Echidna Home 2019

Tragedy alas and alack, my poor neglected passion fruit is really struggling. I have bananas ready to go in to give it some nutrients, but I really think I need to move the poor thing. I have a place in mind, but…I may have missed the boat for this year. It was doing OK last year, flowered and I got a couple of smallish passionfruit off it. For some reason I added a lot of old manure to the bed, and I have a feeling that it needs to be not as well fed as it is at present. It is on my list to keep an eye on it and a possible move as I do believe I am likely going to loose it if I leave it here. In the bed just at the back of this photo is a plum tree from memory I am hoping it is a prune plum. I cannot see any fruit on it at all. This is only its third year so it is still young. It is very healthy.

Rhubarb @Echidna Home 2019

The Rhubarb on the other hand is doing brilliantly . I harvested so much from it recently taking it back to maybe two leaves, and look at this baby it has flourished in the last three weeks. Go baby go.

my two metal water tanks @Echidna Home 2019

jWhat can I say about these tow magnificant hard working life saving structures in my garden. These and the plastic one near the fig tree are my total water supply they stand about seven feet tall and in a previous post I said how many litres/gallons they hold when full. I am so very very appreciative that they are all full to the brim. I am very very fortunate, and feel incredibly wealthy knowing all being well I will have plenty of water to see me and my garden through summer and autumn. I had to buy a new tank two years ago, just over $1400Aus/$965USD. I am thankful I could do it without having to borrow money. I was very lucky in that it was developing a leak on the side, and the roof of the tank had rusted really badly. I could have just put a tarp over the tank top but with the leak in the side it was best to save for a new one. The tank was over 30 years old and it gets a lot more wear and tear than the second one, as the run off water from the roof nearly all runs into this one directly and is connected to the second tank and they fill up together. Currently the third tank is not connected to my pump, the plan is to connect it as I now have hosing long enough to reach the whole of my garden on an outside tap that is on the pump pressure and not gravity fed.

wood chip for garden and one of several Eucalyptus trees about my home @ Echidna Home 2019

Part of my more natural and native garden area, if yo look closely you can see a huge pile of chipped material, bark branches, from all sorts of trees. The local council or electricty company were clearing the trees and branches any were that were impinging on the wires. I heard them and went down to chat to the guys as I had two things I was wanting to ask them. First one I had a tree that had self seeded and would grow into a huge tree, it was under the power lines, on my land (just). I asked them how much they would charge to take it out. At this moment it was only a sapling, in another year it would be a big tree as Acacias develop fast. I sort of said if they could help me now it would not be such a task next year. The lovely man grabbed a chainsaw and took the tree out. Big thanks. I then asked if the truck would be full of the chipped tree material before they left and if so would I be able to have it. He said he would just check with his boss. The boss came over and said yes I could have it as it would save them a trip to the tip. When they dropped it off I was again very appreciative and offered to pay them. The boss said nah it was ok, and one of the young guys said its usually a slab of beer. lol (carton of beer) the boss smiled as I apologised and said nah it was fine. I do believe that most people are lovely. I hate to think how much it would cost to get so much delivered to my home. Again I felt fortunate and wealthy.

Nasturtiums @Echidna Home 2019

This is a very small thing to many people, for me it is massive a joy and I am in great awe. After 20 years of trying to grow nasturtiums. I gave up and just through the left over seed in this east southerly position and shrugged my shoulders. Look look I have nasturtiums! (is it wrong to be disappointed they aren’t the brilliant red I really wanted)? I will look past this and just celebrate that I finally have managed to grow a plant that is in many peoples mind a bit of a weed. The bees love it and I am going to try and make poor mans capers out of the seed balls. Happy dance..

Mock Orange ( Philadelphus mexicanus )and Hellibore @Echidna Home 2019

Philadelphus mexicanus Evergreen Mock Orange. A beautiful plant, with a delightful aroma. It is in a pot. It was going to go in a sunnier location. (east-south location ) morning sun and protected from most gale winds here. I thought it was the Philadelphus coronarius Mock Orange, which is an old fashioned plant in Australia. That is deciduous. I wanted it to loose its leaves and let the winter sun in. It also appear to have more flowers. Mine is flowering and the perfume is lovely. For summer it would be more appreciated growing on a western or northern face to give some sun protection. I will have to look up and see if both the roots and plant can be cut back so I can move it to a more suitable location for us both. I also am not able to move it as it has grown into a hellibore that is covering a porch roof and there are some wee birds nesting. There is no urgency as it will always be the native birds over plant location/pruning.

Maple tree and mushroom blocks Native bush (i cant recall name @ Echidna Home 2019

This photo is still in the east south postion and you can see a maple in a pot, more nasturtium a salvia that gets huge a native that I can not recall its name but has a lovely lilac flower and the birds love. You can also see in foreground are mushroom compost blocks I get from a mushroom grower in my region. For a gold coin donation. They are made from sawdust untreated, lime and something else that I can not recall. I get mushrooms from them for ages when I look after them I have heaps of dried oyster mushrooms in grey and white, along with brown mushrooms . Brilliant kitchen and garden resource especially as oyster mushrooms are $18AUS per kg /$12.21 USD 2.20LbS . I put it in the composting areas with manure and let it combine with other things as I mentioned previously. The only problem is they sit in plastic bags and that is a concern they cant be reused and end up in my rubbish. Or If I can I leave them behind in the bins when i pick them up.

Bay tree @Echidna Home 2019

In a pot near an entrance way to m home sits my bay tree. It is 13 years old and is a wonderful addition to my kitchen garden and as a plant. Bay trees can be huge so having it a pot keeps it manageable. It get pruned and is recovering splendidly after it had a severe prune in winter. Near bye are two Daphene plants that when in flower give off a enticing perfume as I enter my home.

I have not included my orchard area, in this post, nor my paddock I will keep that for another day in the future.

The final photo for this post is a small selection of flowers from my garden. I love the scented flowers and these varities of sweet pea are so strongly scented. I have a vase in my upstairs toilet and they perfume the room, no need for artificial chemicals here at Echidna Home.

who needs air freshners and other chemicals when you have a garden full of Scented flowers. Sweet Peas, Corn Flowers

I do hope all who read this post are safe from the fires across Australia, and I continue sending my rain dance and thoughts to drought and fire ravaged areas. Having been through the fire and smoke issues and the concerns packing up and unpacking several times myself and not certain what might be happening I am happy to support anyone if you need to just share your concerns.

Tazzie

Summer has arrived finally.

I went into a small town near me today, as I needed my medication filled. I was also putting out there, that it would be nice to have a conversation with someone I know. I love that so often things happen for me when I put things out there.

I took the dogs for a walk dropped my script in to the Chemist, bought some things I needed and decided to have a coffee. The cafe was full of people sitting outside, whom I knew and hoped I could chat with. I sat with my dogs at a large community table, everyone left over a few minutes.

My self talk began, oh gee nobody wants to sit with me, or likes me! When I am really unwell I might fixate on this and think really negative things; what I might have done, said that has made people want to avoid me, have I talked to much, been invasive, too loud, have my dogs annoyed them?

Fortunately today I was able to turn that switch off and knew that Yoga had finished 20 minutes ago and most of the people had been to yoga. That it is the silly season where most people have so much to do. It was good to be able to not ruminate and realise it did not matter anyway.

Not a sparrow I know. A Welcome Swallow feeding its young. @Echidna Home 2019-

I sat enjoying my coffee, looking at the world passing me, everyone caught up with their own lives. I realised how fortunate I was to be able to be comfortable on my own sitting in a cafe, enjoying my coffee, observing all that was going on around me. I watched with delight as a sparrow flew down onto the table and began to clean up the crumbs. Its movements were so cute, and it had no fear of me or my dogs. It even hopped down and moved about Busby no fear. I was being caught up in being mindful, and enjoying it.

A shadow crossed my vision. It was a man I know, we have talked quite a few times. He has PTSD and was an alcoholic. He actually owns a house but at times having neighbours too close, he prefers to live in nature. So will camp out in the bush. His appearance is different, he is quite aware that many people see him as a derelict. He is not. He owns his home. He is not destitute in fact he is financially secure. He has university qualifications and has been involved (in a professional manner) in some horrible tragic episodes in his work here in Tasmania.

He stopped and said hello and we ended up sitting talking for over an hour. It was interesting, and I enjoyed our conversation. I was aware of many people who would say hi to me as they walked by or came into the cafe, yet ignore him. It can be hard enough being different in small town, add to that having a mental illness, and appearing different, it His clothes were clean, he was dressed in a hoodie with it up which was unusual as it is a warm day here today. I have never found him to be anything but a kind and considerate interesting person.

Having a chat with me. @Echidna Home 2019

We were talking about how the world seems to be in turmoil and so full of negative bad feelings and vibes. He shared that for him it is the very time to be appreciative and look at all the positive things about us. We covered quite a few topics, and I really enjoyed our chat. It was just what I needed. Love it! I consider him a friend.

My dogs who had been very patient were happy when I said goodbye and finally moved off. We walked to the Chemist to get my medication; to get some fresh free range local eggs from our local wholefood shop(where many products are sold cheaper than the large national chain grocery supermarket)! Plus it saves petrol to shop locally.

The Little Free Library a beautiful piece of work built by the Local Mens Shed

I noticed that some of the guys from the Men’s Shed were returning the Little Free Library they had originally built it and it needed a bit of tweek, so it had been missing for a couple of weeks. It is lovely that it is back in time for all the visitors who will be coming to visit our beautiful valley. I often take a book and bring others back. I also love my State Library. Both great ways to get books to read without costing a cent/dime. Out libraries are amazing with free internet, story time for children, activities in the school holidays, stuff for adults as well. So I stopped to have a browse and took two books. I am so glad that the new medication I have been on for a few months now has given me more concentration so I can read a more involved book than I have in the last few years.

It was getting hotter and my dogs who had been so good were panting after our walk it was almost noon (daylight saving time) and it was time to head home. I looked at my gorgeous companions and decided that a swim to cool off was in order. So on the way home we stopped at a lovely local spot for a paddle and for Busby to fetch a stick that I would throw for him into the water.

Treacle having a paddle

Treacle is more a paddler, though I did take her out of her depth a little way so she could swim back in. Good for her back. I am pretty certain that it is not her favourite thing. She is a treasure though and swims and waits for me to come out.

Busby is always a bit tentative at first of swimming out of his depth. No exception today. Even though I was in the water too. I had hoped this would help him but it didn’t. I had not planned on a swim today I was in a dress. I did not let it stop me from a refreshing swim in I went fully dressed.. Busby eventually did come in and had a ball. He always lets me know when he has had enough, he takes the stick and hides it. Too funny.

He is off
enough runs off with stick
Stick retrieved

The week has been improving each day. I have been out and watered the garden and my deck plants, it is almost 20:00/8:00pm and the temperature remains at 26.3dC/79.34 this is so unusual for Tasmania. Compared to South Australia where Adelaide its capital city was 43.7dC/110dF and a rural town called Ceduna which reached 47dC/116dF I am quite ok with the warm night we will have.

Sydney and Canberra are forecast to reach 40dC tomorrow. Adelaide 44dC tomorrow and 45dC on Friday.

Where as in Hobart tomorrow it is forecast to be 23 and 33 on Friday. It is very strange weather for this time of year.

I am very happy with the sunshine and warmer to hot days, as my vegetable garden is starting to respond finally. Things will be late this year.

I feel for people in the areas with such heat. Fires in NSW have burnt an area bigger than Wales! My Thoughts with the fireies who are and have been fighting fires across the Mainland and here on the north east coast. All the incredible volunteer bush and country brigades. The people who have come from overseas too. Thank You for giving up your Christmas to help us! It was our turn this time last year to be surrounded by fires and smoke impact. So I truly understand what you are dealing with.

Tazzie.

I am Finally a trend setter!

I find it an interesting thing that people are selling up to have a simple life. How it will be a wonderful thing, that changing their lives will be the most incredible thing and to live simply will be so easy. I do hope that anyone considering the simple life really examines what they expect and want or need in their new simple life.

What is the simple life really?

I do not believe it is the picture that is out there in many peoples minds. Yes moving and growing vegies, chooks and other animals, living off grid maybe, which seems to be the concept seen most as the ideal of a simple life is not my belief of what a simple life really is.

Living a simple life is to me learning what is really important in your life. Looking at all avenues, and for some people it may be just learning to stop. and just be, comfortable in the stillness and quiet for a few moments. It seems to me that a lot of people are just not comfortable with doing nothing for a few moments. That to me is beginning a journey towards what you want your simple life to be.

I did not choose the simple life, it chose me through circumstances.

The foxgloes are as tall as the peach tree, that is a leek flower pod in front,

My home is not a simple home. My partner built it, made out of timber and metal roof, simple building materials the architecture and inside is all his. It was built on a shoe string and he was environmentally aware and passionate about native wild life. So it is surrounded by tall eucalyptus trees and Blackwoods. All the windows are recycled as in second hand and are varied sizes and shapes. It shows its vintage being built over 32 years ago.

It has been my home for 20 years 10 without my partner who built it. It does not have any granite, marble tops or tiles. The bathroom today would be considered very basic. with its unmatched toilet and sink and bath colour. (different beige’s) It has a shower with a simple shower head. It has a bath, I would like to replace as it is a 3/4 bath and even I at 157cms /5’2″ am unable to fully immerse my body under the water. without my knees sticking up or my feet over the sides. I dream of a deep and longer length bath. (I cant afford to so I have a relaxing bath with my knees up out of the water or my feet. The house has the luxury of two toilets one upstairs and the other in the bathroom downstairs.

I do not use hot water upstairs as it wastes too much water to heat it. So my morning face wash is in cold water and in winter it is very refreshing. I think many people would find this really strange.

For people like me totally reliant on tank water (rain water collected into large water tanks 9300Litres/2100 gallons X3), you get used to be really aware of how much water you use in all aspects of you home life and garden. As in wastage for hot water to get to tap upstairs, and only flushing the toilet when necessary..there is a saying here ‘If its yellow let it mellow if its brown flush it down’ . Even though I do have the water saving half flush toilets. This saves a heap of water, and most people who have visited have been fine with it.

I have a electric pump to have water pressure into the house. One important thing when putting in water tanks is to have a tap fitted on it, as if you have blackouts the electric pump wont work and you can get water from the tanks still to flush the loo (toilet), make a cuppa, and have water to drink.

My Kitchen is simple and was very cheap in comparison to commercially built or kits. Built out of solid timber by my partner with solid timber tops. Considered luxurious today. Shelves instead of cupboards above.

Bottled Gas is used for cooking and instant hot water. Grey water is removed onto my land via French Drains. Black water is treated on my property via septic system. I use wood heater for heating, and fans for cooling. I have electricity, I once looked at the cost of solar, it was just too expensive for me as my quarterly electricity bill is generally very low. September to December was $165. I use approx 3.200 kwh a day.

My home has three bedrooms, and a storage room laundry that is huge. Two bedrooms I very rarely use, and the storage room and office/workshop apart from using the washing machine and my freezer not used much. I could happily live without them.

I live in a rural setting, but you can certainly have a simple life in a city or town, with a garden or without.

All our furniture is second hand, bought from tip shops. Our lounge suite an old one of my fathers who did not want to sit on our tip shop lounges covered in fabric and very comfortable was not to his liking. He was coming to stay and a few days before we had a knock on the door, it was a moving van? With a three piece lounge suite (two recliners) from my father in NSW. (even though it is over 15 years ago that it was delivered the cost must have been big to have it delivered to us in Tasmania) It was his old lounge a leather one not one I would have chosen; hey, but its comfy and cost us nothing and he was very happy with his very generous gift. We were able to gift our tip shop furniture to some other folk. My white goods are all old the newest would be 12 years old. I have a TV smaller than most peoples computer screens. My mobile phone is four years old as is my laptop and that is because I got a great last tax return when I was unable to work due to my mental illness. We could afford to buy brand new everything. WHY if there was no reason too. Everything was working, well comfortable and we were content. I continue to be content with what I have.

My partner used to say if someone broke in to rob us they would feel so sorry for us they would leave us stuff.

For me the simple life is not to be confused with minimalism or frugality. I am certainly not a minimalist. I realise that I am most certainly frugal. BUT not like a lot of the frugal Facebook communities and Youtube channels, where its all about how cheap you can shop? Frugal to me is not about how cheap something is but NEED. If I NEED it I will see how much it is and work out the cheapest way to get it.

I have holes in my jumper. I don’t NEED another jumper, I can repair this one by darning it. Or patching it.

Tasmania Dover Beach Busby taking in the view. @echidna home June 2019

I am not a fashion or trend setter. The beauty of where I live is that you can wear almost anything and you will hardly get a second look well at least by many locals tourist may just be here to view the community. I am sure there are locals who look and judge, that is their thing to bear.

Me? Well I am all about comfort, and simplicity. I am aiming to have more natural fibres in my clothing. (mainly as I can compost them). I can knit and I can sew. My PTSDC at times means I can’t concentrate or complete things which for the time being makes both of these things too difficult. I am working on that . I do without nothing and desire very little. I am working out how to save to fix my kitchen tap I broke, its been a while but I am managing without it working properly. The beauty of not having a credit card is I can only live within my means.

I have been in the past caught up with buying cheap clothes. Yet I have clothes that I paid maybe three times as much for that are still going strong twenty years later. Made out of pure cotton or linen that I picked up on sale; I never buy new clothes at full price. (except maybe undies as they are never on sale when I NEED them) .

Yet you don’t have to be growing vegetables, or what ever to live a simple life. You don’t have to move into a tiny home, or down size unless that is what you desire. You don’t have to move to acreage. Or to a rural area a country town. Cooking from scratch, or baking your own bread.

Living simply to me is about not getting rid of all your stuff just because that is how it seems. If you cant sell it, gift it, or donate it; it goes into the rubbish. If you have uses for it now keep it. Just don’t acquire more things. If you love fashion be more selective, buy things that will last and don’t get caught up on the latest trends.

In fact for many people who decide to live simply suddenly are buying dehydrators, bread makers, slow cookers, crock pots, preserving equipment, chicken houses and other things to make their lives simple.

That is hard work guys..to live the simple life in that manner especially if you still have to work to pay for your new lifestyle. I have an acre of land I dream of more, in reality right now it is perfect. Yet I have a neighbour who is working full time has five acres and all she seems to do on the weekend is mow her 5 acres. This may bring her untold delight, I am just trying to show that a simple life on land is hard work. With livestock its expensive. I am not the best vegie grower, but I give it my best shot.

That is another thing that many folk undertake to live simply is to leave the area they have lived for a long time. Moving is a huge thing let alone changing your entire life style. It is not always easy to make friends especially if you are out of town.

Dover Beach Tasmania Treacle waiting for me..@Echidna Home June 2019

Your passions should determine how you want to simplify your life. It is a time thing. Be comfortable with what you have as you slowly move towards your goal.

For me the main thing about my simple life is using cash or a debit card. Not having a credit card! I can only spend my own money that I have now. I am debt free and own my home. Living simply for me is having a well stocked pantry. Buying in bulk when it works out way cheaper. Buying more items I know I use and will NEED when on sale. for example butter was $6.50 500gms It was on special for $4.50 500gms I bought as many as I could afford (6) and froze them. Crop swapping with others in the community, and using my library for books. It is also for me with my PTSDC being at home, and knowing for me being at home with my dogs is the best of living simply. The garden and nature. Staying at home simplifies my life so much.

I go to my local crop swap community gathering monthly, and I go to my local market every so often when I need something I know I can get. In staying home, I spend heaps less on petrol the wear and tear on my car which cost me $1000 and is 14 years old. I try to save seeds from my vegies and take cuttings from plants I like to help fill my garden in a frugal way.

In living a simple life I have also learnt to be honest with people about my finances. That I would love to buy their product as in raspberries today at the market but they were not in my budget and there will be raspberries for a while and I will get some in the next few weeks. If I miss out that is OK too. That is how I look at it. I don’t need raspberries, I would like to eat some, but right now I can not afford them. I also will have plenty of free blackberries soon available.

I do understand that especially in Australia the cost of renting and buying houses has gone through the roof. That so many people are in debt or have high mortgages or rent and in my mind you can live a simple life by looking at how to reduce your debt. I recall working out how much I was spending a week on coffee when I was working full time, back then coffee was $3.50 I would have two a day, so $7 x 5 days =$35 X 48 weeks(4 weeks annual leave) $1680 a year on coffee alone! That would have been 10 weeks rent!

I do know that I am so very well off in comparison to so many people out there, even living on my very small benefit. Which, I am so fortunate to live in a country that I am supported in a financial way. I do not know how anyone living in cities paying rent or mortgage could manage on the benefit I am on and I know that many people are not without a lot of help or becoming homeless or living in cars or couch surfing.

The more I thought about it I realised that for some living the simple life is a wealthy persons choice. You have something that enables you to change lifestyles. A property that has increased in value enabling you to sell and move to a cheaper area. For most people employment is not possible in cheaper areas, which is why they are often cheaper to buy into. For renters the cost of moving and setting up again is expensive. So I reckon if you are looking enviously at all the bloggers and instagramers Youtubers, who seem to have it all, just stop and think of the work, time, and money it has taken to get them there. If you are on benefits, and not in my situation (don’t get me wrong I have financial stress at times.) simply living is the most important thing. Is it simple living if you on the street living? or in Your car? Not likely.

For me living a simple life is normal, has been for a couple of decades. At one time it meant eating out more and socialising more, until I realised most of what I was doing was sort of ok, but I was not really enjoying it. The people I was doing it with are no longer in my life, even though we were friends. That is okay it is life, and life changes. All in all I enjoy my life now far more, because for me the simple life is about what is best for me in my situation. Not what anyone else thinks or feels you should be. It is interesting I am living now in a green semi self sufficient home a simple life am I finally part of a trend setting group?

Tazzie.

Vegie Garden with Ollas

16th December 2019

3 weeks ago the following was written in my garden journal. It is the next planting of my summer garden. I had planted tomatoes, beans and corn and pumpkin (known as threes sisters planting) My vegies (vegatables) garden beds are basically square meter beds or about 40″ square raised beds. I do all sorts of plantings at one time I did use the square foot gardening methods and loved the quantity of vegies you could get from a small area. This year I am mixing it up a bit in how I am planting. I do plant closer together than you usually do. I also have plants in containers on my deck and have been adding seeds and seedlings into my normal beds too. (that is for another post I think).

25/11/19 The garden was calling today, blue sky and still for a while.  I was not feeling like spending time in the garden as I was just feeling quite flat.  I looked at my seedlings that remain to be planted out.  The zucchini  and some brassicas were really needing to go out, or at least into a larger pot. As to the lettuce I got at crop swap. I figured that if I was going to transplant them I should put them in the garden and not pot them up.  I gathered my supplies the seedlings with the aim to complete the planting of these and not stop until most were in.  

Not your neat tidy garden.

With the wind dropping off and the sunshine it became easier to do.   It seems to be for me at times that just beginning is often so unbelievably hard.  I have been learning to do a small thing so my aim was to plant these seedlings.  There are more to go out though they need warmer temperatures than we have been having of late.   I looked at the where I have a couple of tomatoes growing and thought that the eggplant I had put in the bed was being exposed to much to the wind so moved it. It and some capsicums seedlings are in the asparagus bed for the time being.

MA tomato with flowers a zucchini and a lettuce seedling.

I then put the zucchinis in the bed and the lettuce on the side where the zucchinis will be discouraged by me in where they wander.  I had planed to trellis them, unfortunately sunshine would have been blocked from other beds.

I decided that the brassicas needed to be put in and as they are heavy feeders, they went in to a bed with aged manure, blood and bone and two Ollas. 

Brassica bed with Ollas

I keep mentioning Ollas. What are they? they are water reservoirs that go into the soil and help with watering and water retention.

a real Olla.

My homemade Ollas are terracotta planters (I have been able to buy some with no hole for drainage in them.)and the saucer becomes the lid.  You can fill the hole with a suitable filler for a terracotta pot ensure that it is a safe product for use in something in your vegie garden.

I put the pot into the bed and just the lip is sticking above fill the pot with water and pop the saucer on for lid.  I mulch over them so to keep them cool. Though it is very easy to check water level by taking top off and adding water, not forgetting to put the top on and cover with mulch. You terracotta planters must not be sealed in any way.

My terracotta pot
Normal way to use the pot
No drainage hole in my pots
water savig pots in situ in brassica bed,
Terracotta pot in the bed with saucer as lid it is now an Olla

Some seedlings are coping better than others. I am trying the Three Sisters method this year. My understanding that Native Americans used to plant corn beans and pumpkins (squash) together. The beans use the corn to grow up on, whilst the squash leaves keep the roots of the plants cool.

The Three sisters bed. Beans corn and pumpkin (squash)

My dogs Treacle and Busby are my family.  Throughout my breakdown and my ongoing mental health illness they are my constant companions.  I would not be here I can honestly admit if it had not been for my animals.  In my worst days (not so distant)  there presence, warmth,  love, companionship and their needing me is why I did not kill myself.  For their presence I am eternally grateful. 

Busby provides shade for treacle

It breaks my heart when I hear or read about people saying how can people on Newstart (unemployment benefit I am on it, in Australia.) or living on the street afford to keep a dog or cat ?   For many the love companionship of their furred buddy is what keeps them going just like me.  Just like me I would go without and have in the past so my dogs are fed and cared for.   Yet these people are often judged. It is amazing how just having another heartbeat near you and the soft fur to pet and a warm body to hug and snuggle with is everything to me and I assume them.

I am appreciative to wake up every day now.   Not all days are great but that is normal the bad days are less but I guess if I don’t leave my home it makes it less likely I will face a trigger.    I find it so very hard to trust people. I can be out and friendly in small groups say at a cafe on an irregular time frame. Being around people for too long or too often, the noise, music, smells perfumes etc. Exhaust me. There are benefits to this I don’t go out much and therefore spend less than in my previous life. This is a very simple life. I can honestly say that as hard and all as it is life after my breakdown, I am thankful for it. I began living a simpler life not as a choice. It is my life. I am so grateful for the  life I lead now. I have realised I am actually happy in my own space on my own. This is a huge change and it is thanks to having a fantastic psychologist who has really heard and is so supportive. It is the thing I believe is the hardest thing for those with any mental illness to find. Support and help that is pertinent to you as an individual and where you are totally heard and feel safe to share what has to be shared to

The wind had knocked over my broad beans and many were broken off.  I cleared the bed and bought the beans in side.  I will think about what I will do with them tomorrow.  I also harvested some garlic even thought I knew it was too early.  It meant the bed was now fairly clear for the next crops to go into.   Silver beet and a leek  were harvested. 

What a feast  I had an omelette with carrot, onion caramalised, capsicum, silver beet, garlic, broad beans, using two eggs and a quarter cup of milk.  Started on the stove top then grated cheese finely on top(grating it finely you dont’t use as much) put into a low oven to bake gently while I had a shower,  Perfectly cooked when I came out. Delicious.  I paid $6.50 for a dozen organic free range eggs from the farm, my milk is Tasmanian, $4.50 for 2 litres not homogenised, the capsicum red was $1.30 and the onion red was 80 cents.  I used a few slices of capsicum, about 1/4 of the onion, the cheese I buy when on special usually about $9 for 1kg (this one is Bega tasty).  with my vegies which have costs involved in setting everything up( I know) these were very cheap, as all were from seeds I had saved last year.

So from being very reluctant to garden I now feel more peaceful, I enjoyed it, and always find having my hands in the soil or just weeding, does improve my mood. I do take vitamin D supplement during winter as I suffer with low to very low vitamin D levels. (common in Southern maybe all of Tasmania.) I do try to get into the sunshine and yes I do feel good for achieving what I planed and more, along with cooking a fresh healthy meal. Along with having a shower, something that embarrasses me to write but it is my truth, has been over a week since I had one. I have put a load of washing on which was very needed too. I am not a domestic goddess. I do like to cook, and bake. Yet like many things I like and enjoy I get so overwhelmed at times. Which is so strange compared to my working life when I was in charge of facilities. These are the things having a mental illness impact for me; along with my inability to fill out documents, read complex things, to organise, to commit to anything or retain some things in my head. I am so grateful for my garden and to be physically able to work in it. To be able to grow some vegetables for myself.

Tazzie.

Welcome to Echidna Home and Life

Living in a rural location on an acre of land is not always easy when you have PTSD complex (fairly recently diagnosed)  It is interesting to discover in today’s world my life style is seen as pretty self sufficient. Not that I am anywhere near that and can never imagine (as much as I dream of it) being anywhere close to it. I guess it is because Echidna Home is a timber home with a metal roof I rely totally on three rain water tanks for all my water. I have a septic system for my black water (sewerage) and grey water is dispersed via a french drain. I don’t use much electricity, the water pump is probably the biggest user. I have wood heater and instant gas for hot water and cooking.

My home is in Tasmania the island state of Australia. I have recently recommenced growing more of my vegetable(vegies), I have some fruit trees and hazelnuts.

The river near my home sadly this was taken in early 2019 when we had severe bush fires for months on end this is the smoke you can see
. @Echidna Home Jan 2019

Life here has changed a lot over the few years.

The death of my partner, who showed me what being loved unconditionally is like and to be able to reciprocate was very special. I loved him so much. I miss him everyday though the grief and sadness are no longer present.

A few years after his death I had a breakdown, that saw me go from earning good money to living on Newstart (Government payment) as my mental health has deteriorated and I am no longer able to work. So there will be posts about finances, living on less than I earn and what might happen if I don’t do this. Living simply and patching mending clothes. Though living rurally I can get away with so much more in what I wear about the place. Some recipes that are great for budgeting and some things that help me to be able to as yet remain debt free.

I have recently been diagnosed with Complex PTSD This has bought some relief for me after many periods of depression and anxiety along with memory gaps through out my life. As I am learning so much from a great psychologist on why and that for what life has thrown my way over the years the way my brain saved me was a coping mechanism and now I am teaching my brain and myself to cope in different ways. Not easy but I am very much a work in progress.

My dogs with me as I tame some of my garden. @Echidna Home November 2019

I am still alive because of my awesome dogs. Who through the really bad times have given me purpose to get up and do things each day. They need me, and I need them. The worst days I hope are behind me I love waking up each day, no matter what the day may bring. Being in my garden with my hands in the soil and feet bare I am connected earthed for me a feeling of bliss. I am not the best veggie grower, gardener. I struggle yet what ever I get from my own garden is just brilliant. Simple things bring me so much pleasure. This year I have finally been able to grow nasturtiums and marigolds! I have struggled for so long to grow them and everyone about has them and says they are like weeds, Not at my place, they are treasured gems.

Photography is also a great delight to me. Living in Tasmania has given me some really wonderful experiences with my photography. I hope to share them on here. All photos on here unless otherwise noted will be my own. They will be copyrighted so please be advised if you wish to share them you need to contact me.

Why Echidna Home? I have so many native animals and birds that visit and live on my acre, (sadly along with rabbits feral cats and domestic ones too.) My faviourite being the Echidna. Such quirky awesome creatures. I love it when I see she/he in and about the garden or near bye. They are so unique. One echidna lives in my garden. I am so lucky!

The echidna that lives in my garden the blue thing is not a fence but a carrying box I use in the garden. One of my dogs scared she/he and it dug in. It is why the quills are full of rots and its face is covered in dirt. It was making its getaway (dog was inside) @Echidna Home December 2019

As this is about me, my dogs and my life, living on a very low income, as my mental illness means I can no longer work. I will be writing about my life, and where PTSD impacts me I do hope you will enjoy my posts, and comment ask questions and I will answer. To the best of my ability.

welcome to my home

Tazzie.

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