Oh Beautiful Friday!

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My life is a little bit insane at the moment, hence the lack of blogging (sorry!)

I’m as always, up to my eyeballs with uni (getting a portfolio of poetry together this time) and work has started again at Oak Tasmania. This year, I’m doing my musical things with The Superstars and we have some big plans for 2017 but I’ve also started tutoring a Food Gardening group two mornings a week. It’s been hectic!

In the space of a couple of weeks, we’ve started doing experiments with growing carrots in pots rather than in traditional garden beds, resurrected the worm farm, started a vegetable and herbs seed bank, done quite a lot of weeding, cleaned out the small greenhouse that’s on site, potted up some basil and eggplants and planted some lettuce seedlings that are already up and running ūüôā

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Future salad!

Eventually, we want to grow enough to pass on to the kitchen and provide the cooking courses with fresh, clean produce to turn into salads, soups and encourage better eating among the Oak staff and participants. I’m also hoping some of the seedlings will go home with¬†the gardeners, most of whom are very keen!

This week we¬†spotted a very old dinghy around the back of the site and we’ve decided to appropriate it. Our plan is to bed it in securely, fill it with sheep poo and some good loam and plant it out. The drainage is good – she came with lots of holes! – and we’re thinking about an experiment with some seed potatoes we discovered to begin with. Although they’re very late, in a raised bed we should get a crop¬†and I think we should dress it up and name the old girl something like “The Good Ship Spudalicious”. (Photos are coming!)

Meanwhile, at home it’s a bit overwhelming with nectarines just finished and plums coming in and I’ll be getting the dehydrator out this weekend to turn most of the plums into prunes for the winter months. And I did get my one apricot off the new tree! A few months ago I cheered that there was one solitary fruit and it ended up perfect and utterly delicious ‚̧

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The maincrop bush tomatoes (San Marzano and Principe Borghese) are just starting to size up and ripen but the Debarao are still flowering and a little behind the¬†Polish Giant Paste that are very green but already very big! Undoubtedly, the best cropper so far has been the bush Roma’s that were an unexpected bonus. I’ve been picking them just as they’ve started to colour and I’ve got a couple of kilos off them already that I plan to bottle in the next few weeks. Everyone’s tomatoes in southern Tasmania seem a little late this summer, but while the rest of the country’s been in a devastating heat wave, Tasmania has been relatively mild and surprisingly damp this year.

Principe Borghese Tomatoes

Principe Borghese Tomatoes

Last week I picked enough perfect grape vine leaves to put in brine for making Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves)

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At least I got the year right even though it’s February now!

and this week I put up two bottles of Pickled Nectarines. This is really simple and relatively quick. All I do is put halved and pitted nectarines into sterilised jars with a cinnamon quill, a star anise and piece of dried Habanero chili in each (totally optional!) and covered them with a heavily sweetened apple cider vinegar (the ratio is 1:1) while it’s still hot. Covered with sterilised lids and put the jars through a water bath for 15 minutes, these nectarines are wonderful with ice cream as a dessert or sliced with game meats. Just leave them for a few weeks for the flavours to develop.

And Wednesday, I had a great time playing a gig at Irish Murphy’s in Salamanca. Because of everything that’s going on in my life at the moment, I haven’t been playing as many solo shows and it was so good to play some songs and catch up with lots of friends ūüėÄ

Because I’m working more, I decided to make a mega Zucchini and Ham Slice to freeze and take for lunches – it’s a great way to use up some of the zucchini and egg glut! I used 8 eggs, three grated zucchini, a 1/4 cup of flour, a few left over boiled Nicola potatoes, some cubed ham (about 2 cups) a little fresh sage, thyme, marjoram, a couple of finely sliced Cayenne chilies and a grate of nutmeg. After I’d beaten all this together, I added about 1 1/2 cups of grated Colby cheese and about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan and baked it in a greased deep pan for about 45 mins in a moderate oven. I ended up with 7 generous serves that will make work lunches a lot easier!

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But now, it’s Friday night and I’m beat! All I’m good for is watching the cricket on television and drinking cups of tea. I keep looking across at the pile of clean washing and wish it would fold itself up……..

 

 

Basking in the Light – An Update on Callum

Hello friends,

This is a news report from last Monday from WIN News, one of the local commercial stations.

I confess there were tears when I watched it – I’m so incredibly proud of all these great young people – but especially Callum. I know how very hard he worked to make this dream a reality, and he looks fabulous¬†all dressed up in his suit!!!

Also, I was thrilled that one of the Oak Tasmania project leaders Teena was interviewed in this piece. Without her drive and guidance I probably wouldn’t have worked with Callum. It often gets neglected how much staff support goes on to get these kinds of projects off the ground and see them through to such high level achievement.

Yesterday I caught up with most of them and there were high fives and hugs all round, reminding me again why I do what I do¬†‚̧

Dance with the Rhythm – Day 14 NaBloPoMo

I read someone’s comment on a local Facebook gardening page this morning about patience – and how they hope they’ll develop it as they start¬†their new garden. It got me thinking about how terribly out of touch I can be in my own life with the art of waiting.

I don’t think gardens are never “finished” in the same way that, for example, a piece of writing is. Yes, it requires dedication and a lot of hard work and there are choices made throughout the process, it is edited and polished and pondered over but there is an end point when it is released into the world.

Gardens aren’t really like that.

Those of you who know me will fully understand,¬†I’m not the most patient person in the universe, but over the years I’ve learnt how to wait. Yes, there is a difference! And I’ve realised there’s a rhythm to that waiting and I’ve managed to learn a few¬†of the steps ūüėÄ

It’s really just the same as being a musician. As I tell all my students, the day you feel you’ve “finished” learning any instrument is the day you should stop doing it. It takes a particular kind of determination and discipline to stick with it. There are triumphs and disasters – but if the foundations are solid and the drive is there all things are possible. And after 50 years of making music, I’m living proof it’s a lifetime journey.

 

I have a food garden, an urban farm with chickens and breeding rabbits for meat. It’s full of fruit trees, some permanent fruit and vegetable plantings that give it structure and beds of seasonal plantings. The one concession I’ve made to this are a few of my favourite Australian native plants that attract birds and insects (particularly bees), that are mostly in a particularly shady and cold section of the yard and the occasional “visitor” from nearby gardens, like the poppy below (which I will be pulling out before it sets seed!) Yet, there is always something in flower to look at, admire and enjoy while waiting for the garden to grow.

Gardens are like us, they are always being edited, upgraded and polished, evolving and changing with the seasons – always a work in progress.

Wherever you are, enjoy the supermoon and take time to dance with the rhythm of your world ‚̧

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A Star is Born! (And a Sunday Gig)

Back in August (before life got seriously weird) I told you all about my friend Callum, who I’ve had the privilege of working with the last few months. Well, I’m extremely proud to say that his debut was the most fun I’ve had in ages and a resounding success!

Meraki Management runs a beautiful gig each¬†Thursday called UNLOCKED¬†at a The Waratah Hotel here in Hobart. It’s designed to nurture new music¬†and let emerging artists rub shoulders with more experienced performers. And it was the perfect forum for Callum to strut his stuff.

The lounge¬†was packed with Callum’s wonderful family, most of the staff from OAK Tasmania and his extensive network of friends. And he didn’t disappoint! Sadly, I haven’t been able to get any good footage to share with you all – it was one of those “you had to be there” moments.

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At the end of his set, he thanked his family and friends, turned to me and said “oh yeah, thanks to my assistant”. In a true¬†Wayne’s World¬†moment, I bowed down – not worthy!

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It was a night to remember! After we played, Callum worked the room like a real pro, making sure he thanked and talked to everyone who came to support him. Something many performers neglect, but it gives an idea of the sort of¬†person he is, polite, kind-hearted but with a wicked sense of humour. He even got hold of a marker pen and signed people’s wrists. Like most folks there, I was the proud bearer of an autograph. It was sad when I finally washed it off ‚̧

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In the meanwhile¬†Callum’s¬†back at rehearsal. We’re getting more songs together, looking for¬†gigs and planning¬†a recording in the near future. This is incredibly exciting news and I’m really proud to be involved in bringing this young man to a wider audience.

And for those of you in southern Tasmania, I’m playing at another Meraki Management show tomorrow, Noteworthy at Customs House Hotel, down on Hobart’s beautiful waterfront. Also on the bill are two friends, Matt Dean and Ian Murtagh and it’ll be great to catch up with them too.¬†It’s the first time I’ve played a full set in quite a while and I’m looking forward to it. Playing music is like gardening for me – great¬†therapy ūüėÄ

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Introducing Callum!

Hi everyone,

I’ve got some fabulous news! I’m proud to announce that one of my students is going to make his debut performance with me at Meraki Management‘s¬†UNLOCKED gig Thursday 25th August at The Waratah Hotel in Hobart.

Callum is a really¬†great guy¬†who is working towards a Duke of Edinburgh award through OAK Tasmania. For those who aren’t familiar, the DofE is open to young people under 25 and comprises four areas the participant has to complete – service, physical recreation, skills and an adventurous journey. We identified that learning to play the guitar is a skill and¬†performing¬†in front of an audience in a public place would certainly be an adventurous journey. It takes a lot to get up in front of a group of strangers for the first time but this man loves music and is determined to do well. And it’s that level of passion and commitment that makes it all worthwhile from my perspective as a teacher.

Both Callum and I are indebted to the wonderful Amy Fogarty from Meraki Management who has been so supportive, everyone at OAK but especially Teena who has guided both of us through the process.

It’s been a lot of really hard work but Callum is a great student and a natural performer. I’m really looking forward to it ūüôā If you’re in Hobart Thursday 25th please come down and support us. We’re on at 7pm ‚̧

Rock star in the making!

Rock star in the making!

PS: The Superstars have been making a video! More about that next post ūüôā

 

Debut! – The Superstars

Well, we did it!

On Friday The Superstars had their debut performance outside of OAK Tasmania – and it was a HUGE success!

Final Rehearsal L-R: Tim, Sally, Kelly [back], Megan and Kathryn

Final Rehearsal L-R: Tim, Sally, Kelly [back], Megan and Kathryn

We were asked to come and play at the Ability to Create exhibition opening at Waterside Pavilion, Mawson Place down at the docks in Hobart. It was a very grey, showery day but we had a great time Рand I think the audience did too!

An example of the beautiful art work we helped to open

An example of the beautiful art work we helped to open

I cannot begin to tell you all how proud I am of this group. I’ve been away, trying to recover from a really nasty virus – but even without me cracking the whip, they’ve still been rehearsing and honing their performance skills. And all their hard work and talent shone through ‚̧

Kelly singing up a storm! [Photo courtesy of Chris Rules]

Kelly singing up a storm! [Photo courtesy of Chris Rules]

And of course there was dancing! [Photo courtesy Chris Rules]

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that a lot goes on behind the scenes to make The Superstars happen that most people don’t see. None of this would happen without the support of OAK and their fabulous staff. Giving their best for the clients is their job and they do that brilliantly – but the support and encouragement they give¬†me as a contract tutor cannot be overstated. You know who you are – thank you ‚̧

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Introducing – The Superstars!

I’ve been meaning to write¬†this for a couple of weeks but life got in the way as it tends to. Nevertheless, here it is!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends around the world,

Let me introduce you to The Superstars ūüėÄ

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The Superstars [photo courtesy of Chris Rules]

From left to right: Megan, Kelli-Lee, Kathryn, Sally, me, Jacqui, Brendon and Tim.

A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to get a weekly gig, playing music every Monday at OAK Tasmania. OAK do a lot of things but where I work, they provide recreational services to people with disabilities. My job was basically to be a human jukebox for an hour and a half every week to a discerning and quite demanding audience!

As time progressed, I started to make some really strong friendships with some of the folks I was playing for and I eventually started doing a separate session, tutoring a group that performed at the in-house end of year parties.

Since the start of this year I’ve been working one morning a week with a smaller crew and we’re playing our first show later this month. I’m unbelievably proud of these people and how hard they work – and I cannot begin to tell you how much fun we have together!

We talked a lot about a name and Kathryn (our newest member) came up with The Superstars! We all agreed it was the best description of everyone in the group, who all bring something special to the songs we perform.

In particular, I’ve been working a lot with¬†Jacqui, who was very uncertain about crowds, doesn’t like lots of noise and tends to be quite shy. Now, she joins in the general silliness, even dances sometimes and she sings – wow does she sing! We’ve become quite close¬†and I treasure her kind, gentle, loving friendship.

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Jacqui and me [photo courtesy of Chris Rules]

I believe everyone¬†has¬†talents and abilities that you might not see at first glance and these wonderful people are no different. I’m privileged to work with them ‚̧

Hobart folks,¬†The Superstars¬†will be performing at the Ability to Create art exhibition opening at Waterside Pavilion Friday May 27th at 1 pm. Come down and celebrate with us ūüėÄ

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