Friendship, Food and Music

Hello friends,

It’s been quite a few weeks since I’ve posted anything. Yes, I think I’m slack too, but I’ve been fairly snowed under with work, a nasty stomach bug and (as always) constant study and assignment deadlines!

A la Game of Thrones, winter isn’t coming – it’s well and truly here! At least winter had the good grace to wait until Dark Mofo had finished before settling in properly. And the colder weather’s brought some very icy mornings and plenty of work to do around my little urban farm. I’ve been weeding beds, transplanting lots of volunteer greens that that have sprung up and covering as much as possible with spent straw from the rabbit hutches. It looks like it’s going to be a really good crop of garlic this coming summer and I can’t wait to see how the later varieties fare in my microclimate. We’ve enjoyed the first few lemons off my tiny tree and the Blood Orange, Lime and Valencia are both surviving the cold weather so far *crosses fingers*

I’m waiting on another order of fruit trees on dwarfing rootstock that I’ll be putting up into wicking tubs like the apples last winter and trying to clean up the last of the chestnuts’ spiky husks and collect all the leaves for compost. I confess I’ve been putting off stripping out the greenhouse in preparation for spring. It’s such a big job and something of a domino effect – once I start, I can’t stop!

I was thinking about tackling it this morning but a visit from some friends saved me ūüėÄ Matt was interested in trying one of my farmed rabbits to eat and arranged to call around with Robyn (another musician friend). Being winter, I had no fresh kits but had one in the freezer from the last litter for him. Robyn and I found about 500g of good chestnuts from two large buckets of spiky husks and I gave her and Matt fresh eggs, herbs and a jar of crabapple jelly for Matt’s elderly mother. We drank coffee on the balcony in the winter sunshine, discussed music, books and life in general.

Matt and I have known one another for many years and today was a delightful catch up. (We recorded “Clementine”, a song of his last year but I’m not sure when it’s going to be released!) He’s in the process of recording again and wanted to borrow my electric 12 string guitar (affectionately known as Dean), which I was happy to do. Meanwhile, I’ve been toying with buying a flat-back mandolin for playing in live sets and was utterly blown away when he gave me this today, saying it was just lying around, not getting played….

I’ve been tinkering around with it most of the afternoon and I think it’s going to be a fabulous addition. And I’m sure every time I play it I’ll think of my dear friend – I might even have to write him a song ‚̧

The Last Gig of 2015

Hi everyone, it’s been lovely to have a break from blogging but I’m itching to write again – there’s been so much going on!

It’s the busiest time of year for me in the garden – I’m planting out heat-hardy salad vegetables like mad to take advantage of our brief but often vicious summer. There’s been several kilos of fruit off the raspberry canes already and several more to come, basil is being cropped, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis and chillies are starting to ripen. On top of all this, I’m making some small wicking boxes this week for the front balcony, which gets all the morning sun and is great for tender salad¬†greens.

A¬†couple of weeks ago, local musician and friend George Begbie won the Rudy Brandsma Award at the ASA national awards in Sydney. Many of us who knew George when he first started performing were thrilled but not really surprised – he’s always been that good!

And my wonderful singing group at Oak Tasmania are playing at the in-house end of year BBQ this Friday. Rehearsals are getting tighter and more intense, we’re all getting excited about showing off some new skills. I hope there’ll be some photos I can share with you all from that too.

But tonight is my last public gig for 2015.

I’m playing a short set at The Homestead in support of my dear friend Matt Sertori. I’ve known Matt for many years and despite his seemingly irreverent lyrics, he is one of the most thoughtful, intense and inspiring performers around.

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There is a misconception that Matt playing solo is just a comedy act but I think it’s important to understand there are two distinct sides to this demanding performer. Listen to his (often scathing) lyrics and look¬†behind the laughter, there are some deep and incredibly serious subjects being dealt with. Here, there is a depth to the writing and an intensity in performance that can be downright confronting.

I am honoured to be playing support tonight for many reasons. Matt is also the man who drew me into the ASA over a decade ago and instigated the supportive, mentoring attitude that prevailed until quite recently. If you’re in or around Hobart I urge you to come and listen to this most fascinating and complex songwriter. And say hello – I love catching up with you all.

Take care wherever you are ‚̧

Wild Weather and Gig News – Day 25 NaBloPoMo 2015

We had a reminder today that it’s spring, and really only one small step away from winter. Although it hasn’t been too cold, the temperature is dropping this evening and the wind has been very fierce.¬†And of course, this is the only day this week I had time to go and buy a trailer load of sand and another of composted bark. I’m certain the universe knows these things!

The reason I needed these landscaping supplies is a problematic back corner of the garden. I think everyone with a reasonable sized yard has one of these. That¬†area furthest away from the house that you don’t look at every day, where you’re not sure what to do, everything you plant dies yet¬†weeds seem to thrive! I haven’t done anything with this area for¬†ages, it must be two years since it’s been weeded.

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The Corner of Shame

This is what it looked like a few weekends ago – arrgghhh!!! We’d already ripped the Morning Glory (Ipomea sp.) off the fence but the roots are trailing and are difficult to remove. I personally think this is one of the worst weeds in southern Tasmania and if left unchecked it will completely smother vegetable beds, while stripping all nutrients from the soil.

In the middle of this bed is a very old fashioned prune plum, which is a prolific bearer of very sweet, yellow fleshed purple skinned fruit. The tree is old but in good health, despite the competition from blackberries, ivy, mallow and thick clumps of onion twitch. We’ve cleared about half of the area – from the fence up to the bole of the plum. It’s a slow, hard job but we plan to keep chipping away (literally) over the coming weeks, laying thick cardboard and old cotton rugs, covering it with coarse sand and top dressing with composted bark.

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Today’s landscaping supplies

Once the bed is finished, I’m putting up shade cloth around the fence to add some height and screen the corner and we’re considering putting a beehive here next year that will face in to the yard. It’s a big job, but like all these things, ultimately worth all the effort.

On another note, I’ve got a gig coming up at The Homestead¬†next month on December 15th, doing a short set for the Australian Songwriters Association. The feature act will be my dear friend, Matt Sertori (of Butterscotch Pony fame) and I’m really looking forward to it. Matt is one of the most interesting performers I know, his lyrics are often insightful and scathing and although he doesn’t do it often, I love his solo shows.

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Meanwhile, I’m off to find a jumper, the temperature’s starting to drop. It was 21 C today (about 70 F) and tomorrow we’re expecting 12 C (about 54 F) and possible snow on Kunanyi/Mt Wellington. Typical Hobart spring weather!