I’ve been plagued by a bout of writer’s block and have decided to do a catch-up in the hope that it gets my creative juices flowing again – this really is “a little bit of this, a little bit of that”. Since my last post in February, autumn has nudged summer out of the door and has begun moving in, boots and all. It feels like summer really just swung by the Midlands, tantalizing us with the odd glimpse of sunshine here and there before buggering off to the north. I’ll have the last laugh though because I’m going to America in June and hopefully I’ll meet up with summer there, properly.
As autumn ushers in chilly mornings and evenings and glorious Van Gogh skies, the light begins to change. Everything looks sharper, clearer and more vivid. There is also an added sense of urgency – get those winter beds ready NOW is my constant refrain. I have to admit my summer harvest was not terribly impressive. Tomatoes, cucumbers and squash all got mould, shrivelled up and died – I think it was too much mist and drizzle and not enough sun. However we have had a plentiful supply of salad greens, lovely Italian basil, Swiss chard, green beans and beetroot. And our potato crop has been the best yet.
I’m rather partial to a dish that combines both green beans and potatoes, a match made in heaven. This recipe was torn out of a 1995 Fair Lady magazine with the caption A South African in Florida. Maybe you should give it a try Alex!
Farm-style Green Beans
- 4 rashers streaky bacon (it says rindless but I haven’t seen bacon with the rind on for yonks)
- 1½ cups water
- 1 red chilli, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium potatoes, cubed
- 500 g green beans, sliced on the diagonal
- 1 Tbs butter
- Chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer bacon in water with garlic, chilli, onion and potatoes for 10 minutes. Add beans and cook for about 12 minutes, until beans are just tender. Add butter, parsley, salt and pepper and lightly break up the potato with a fork so that it binds the mixture. QED.
In April last year, out of the blue I developed a gammy shoulder. At first it hurt like hell, especially if I inadvertently jerked my arm, and then it just became frozen. I decided to leave it to heal itself and it has – a year later my frozen shoulder has defrosted. Of course I’m delighted, having a frozen shoulder is very inconvenient and I’m now able to accomplish tasks that I had to do one-handed before, like undoing my bra strap and washing my hair. It has also allowed me to resume my morning yoga routine, which is great as I’m trying to get into shape for my forthcoming trip.
I have also taken up meditating again, after a long break. When you start, 20 minutes meditating seems like an eternity in contrast to how quickly the same time flies when you’re trying to get ready to face the day. I always seem to run out of time in the morning, even if I wake up at sparrow’s fart.
I can’t wait to see the kids. I’ll be staying with Kiera and James in their lovely new house in Maryland and plan to take a trip down to Miami to see Alex in his fancy-schmancy apartment, Mint in Brickell.
At the beginning of this year, I volunteered to help organise the library at the school instead of teaching preschoolers. Some time ago, another trustee raised funds to establish a library; books were donated and book shelves were put up in a disused classroom. Unfortunately though, no-one had the time to make it happen. So Thandi and I have been spending one afternoon a week sorting through books, arranging them on shelves and cataloguing them. I haven’t fathomed out a procedure for loaning them out yet so if anyone has any bright ideas, they will be most gratefully received. I plan to open the library one day a week to the Curry’s Post Primary School learners, as well as local high school kids and adults in the afternoon. I hope to train some of the older kids to become library monitors so that they can run it when I’m not there (I’ve learnt that it’s no use asking teachers to take on additional duties).
The Trust has agreed to install a couple of computers with internet access for members of the community to use as a mini Community Business Centre as well as for learners to do internet searches. I want to create a friendly atmosphere and have included jigsaw puzzles, Lego and other games. In time I would love to see the library functioning as a Community Resource Centre, hosting a range of workshops for learners and adults, such as music, art, permaculture, cooking etc.
We also ran our second successful science and maths workshop at the beginning of this month. 13 schools in our circuit (Lions River) attended as well as 5 schools from Mpofana circuit which we unfortunately cannot include in our immediate plans to loan out science and maths kits. They enjoyed the workshop nonetheless and were inspired to try and raise their own funds to buy apparatus. It breaks my heart really to think of all the kids missing out on these learning experiences. Just before the workshop, the N3 Toll Concession informed me that they had approved funding for the mobile kits so there was great excitement all round.
So, what with my garden, a little bit of bridge now and then, the library and the science & maths project I’m going to be kept well occupied. Ah yes, this is exactly what I thought retiring in the country would be like!